Working With Arch Pain

Overview

Fallen arches, also known as flat feet or pes planus, may be present at birth or develop later in life. The midfoot normally exhibits a slight arch, keeping this region raised during walking. Absence of the normal arch causes flattening of the sole. Many people with fallen arches have no associated symptoms, while others experience foot pain or fatigue. Treatment for fallen arches depends on the severity of the condition and associated symptoms.

Arch Pain


Causes

There are many different factors that can cause arch pain. A structural imbalance or an injury to the foot can often be the direct cause. However, most frequently the cause is a common condition called plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue located along the bottom surface of the foot that runs from the heel to the forefoot. Excessive stretching of the plantar fascia, usually due to over-pronation (flat feet), causes plantar fasciitis. The inflammation caused by the plantar fascia being stretched away from the heel often leads to pain in the heel and arch areas. The pain is often extreme in the morning when an individual first gets out of bed or after a prolonged period of rest. If this condition is left untreated and strain on the longitudinal arch continues, a bony protrusion may develop, known as a heel spur. It is important to treat the condition promptly before it worsens.


Symptoms

Intense heel pain, especially first thing in the morning and after a long day. Difficulty walking or standing for long periods without pain. Generally, the sharp pain associated with plantar fasciitis is localized to the heel, but it can spread forward along the arch of the foot and back into the Achilles tendon. While severe cases can result in chronic pain that lasts all day, the most common flare ups occur first thing in the morning, making those first steps out of bed a form of torture, and in the evening after having spent a day on your feet. Overpronation (a foot that naturally turns too far inward), high arches, and flat feet (fallen arches) can all cause similar arch pain. In these cases, however, the pain is more likely to continue throughout the day rather than being worst in the morning.


Diagnosis

After you describe your symptoms and discuss your concerns, your doctor will examine your foot. Your doctor will look for these signs. A high arch. An area of maximum tenderness on the bottom of your foot, just in front of your heel bone. Pain that gets worse when you flex your foot and the doctor pushes on the plantar fascia. The pain improves when you point your toes down. Limited “up” motion of your ankle.


Non Surgical Treatment

Arch pain can be treated with orthotics, inserts that have proper arch support to relieve the strain on the plantar fascia, mild stretching and anti-inflammatory medications. Orthotics will relieve most of the strain put onto the plantar fascia by supporting the band from underneath when pressure is applied. Tape can also be used in conjunction with orthotics to restrict movement and support the plantar fascia. Stretching should be used along with orthotics and continued long after the symptoms of arch pain are gone to prevent it from occurring again.

Pain In Arch


Surgical Treatment

The main goal of surgery is to reduce pain and improve function. It may also reduce other injuries such as repeated ankle sprains and broken bones. Surgery may be considered if there is no relief with physical therapy, changes in shoewear and/or changes in activity. Some patients will also have tendon problems, ankle weakness and foot fractures. These patients may require other procedures to address related problems. If you have medical problems that make surgery unsafe, any infections or blood vessel disease, cavus foot surgery may not be appropriate. The surgical procedures involved with the correction of the cavus foot are varied. Theses may include correction of the bony deformity, ankle looseness and the muscle imbalances that cause the deformity. The goal is to provide a foot that evenly distributes weight along both inside and outside edges. A variety of incisions may be needed to perform the procedures related to the correction of the cavus foot.


Prevention

Stretch and strengthen important muscles in your feet, ankles and legs in order to guard against future strain. Make sure to acquire suitable arch supports and inserts if necessary, and that your shoes are shock absorbent and in good condition. Wearing tattered shoes provides no protection, and runners should replace their footwear before exceeding 500 miles of usage. Athletes new to arch supports should gradually build their training routine, allowing their feet to become accustomed to a new stance.

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