"Arch pain" is a general term referring to pain that runs along the bottom of the foot, concentrated between the heel and the base of the toes. Arch pain develops when the structures of the feet start to wear down. The result is pain and tenderness that will increase when the arch is stretched.
Though arch pain is relatively common, especially following any type of intense physical activity, it is important to see a doctor if the pain persists for more than a few days.
Causes of arch pain
The arch of the foot is responsible for absorbing impact and providing support when you are on your feet. The primary structures of the arch are easily strained by everything from overuse to injury.
Arch pain can be caused by a structural imbalance of your foot or even a direct injury, including a fracture. In most cases, arch pain is caused by strain to the plantar arch, or plantar fascia, which is the ligament that runs from the heel to the base of the toes.
Common causes of arch pain include:
- Arthritis of the joints in the midfoot.
- Overpronation (excessive inward rolling of your foot).
- Strain from overuse (running, walking, and standing on your feet all day).
- Stress fracture.
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome.
- Use of non-supportive footwear.
Arch pain symptoms
Arch pain most often manifests as a burning pain that runs down the sole of your foot. The location of the pain can be a helpful diagnostic tool, as pain in a specific area along the arch can indicate which structure of your foot is strained.
Pain may also increase or decrease when your arch is stretched. In mild cases of strain to the ligament, pain may be intense in the morning and will decrease as the foot "warms up" throughout the day. In more severe cases, pain will increase with movement, making physical activity difficult, if not impossible.
Treatment of arch pain
Arch pain is a common foot condition that can be treated at home or under the guidance of a physician. At the onset of pain, treatment should begin with the R.I.C.E guidelines of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Any physical activity that aggravates soreness should be limited.
Pain can be managed with over-the-counter medications. If the soreness and pain persists for several days, it is best to see a foot doctor. Your physician may recommend anything from physical therapy and stretching to the use of orthotics.