Working With Arch Pain

Working With Arch Pain

Overview

Arch pain is felt on the underside of your foot between the heel and ball. The purpose of the arch is to transfer your body weight from heel to toe, and pain is the result when the arch doesn?t function properly. Your foot actually contains two arches: the longitudinal arch which runs the length of your foot, and the transverse arch (also known as the metatarsal arch) which spans the width of your foot. There are 24 bones which create the arches and these bones are held together through their unique interlocking shapes and ligaments. The muscles and the plantar fascia (a broad band of fibrous tissue which runs from the heel to the toes) provide secondary support, and fat pads help to absorb impact and bear your weight. If any of these structures or their interaction are damaged or faulty, arch pain may occur. The most common cause of arch pain is plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the plantar fascia. You may also suffer arch pain if you have a structural imbalance in your foot or suffer from arthritis. But arch pain may also result from stepping on a rock or when someone steps on your foot. This force may cause an injury such as a bone fracture or damage to the supporting muscles, ligaments, or tendons underneath your foot.

Foot Arch Pain


Causes

The most common cause of arch pain is plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the fibrous band of tissue that connects the heel to the toes. Sufferers of plantar fasciitis typically feel pain early in the morning when they first get out of bed. Another common cause of arch pain is fallen arches or flat feet. Fallen arches result in the sole of the foot becoming flat so that the entire sole of the foot touches the ground. Fallen arches can lead to pain in the ankles, knees, feet, and even in the legs. While fallen arches are often inherited, for some it develops as a result of wear and tear on your feet. Wearing shoes without proper metatarsal support, or arch support, can overstretch the tendon that supports the arch causing the arch to flatten out.


Symptoms

The majority of children and adults with flexible flatfeet never have symptoms. However, their toes may tend to point outward as they walk, a condition called out-toeing. A person who develops symptoms usually complains of tired, aching feet, especially after prolonged standing or walking. Symptoms of rigid flatfoot vary depending on the cause of the foot problem.


Diagnosis

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can show tendon injury and inflammation but cannot be relied on with 100% accuracy and confidence. The technique and skill of the radiologist in properly positioning the foot with the MRI beam are critical in demonstrating the sometimes obscure findings of tendon injury around the ankle. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is expensive and is not necessary in most cases to diagnose posterior tibial tendon injury. Ultrasound has also been used in some cases to diagnose tendon injury, but this test again is usually not required to make the initial diagnosis.


Non Surgical Treatment

Treatment of plantar fasciitis is sometimes a drawn out and frustrating process. A program of rehabilitation should be undertaken with the help of someone qualified and knowledgeable about the affliction. Typically, plantar fasciitis will require at least six weeks and up to six months of conservative care to be fully remedied. Should such efforts not provide relief to the athlete, more aggressive measures including surgery may be considered. The initial goals of physical therapy should be to increase the passive flexion of the foot and improve flexibility in the foot and ankle, eventually leading to a full return to normal function. Prolonged inactivity in vigorous sports is often the price to be paid for thorough recovery. Half measures can lead to a chronic condition, in some cases severely limiting athletic ability.

Arch Pain


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.


Stretching Exercises

Inchworm. Stand with your weight on one foot. Raise the metatarsal heads of the unweighted foot while you pull its heel closer to your toes. Next, raise your toes toward the ceiling, and then relax your whole foot with it flat on the floor. Your foot should move like an inchworm across the floor. Reps 6-7 for each foot. Horsepawing. Stand with your weight on one foot and the other foot slightly in front of you. Raise the metatarsal heads on the front foot. Lift your heel ever so slightly off the ground, maintaining the raised metatarsal heads, and pull your foot toward you so that it ends up behind you. Return this foot to the starting position in front of you. You should really feel this one in your arch. Reps. 6-7 for each foot. Toe pushups. Sit in a chair with your feet resting on the floor. Raise your heel as high as you can while keeping your toes flat on the floor. This is the starting position. Using your toe muscles, roll your foot upward until the weight of your foot is resting on the ends of your toes, like a dancer standing on point in toe shoes. Roll back down to the starting position. Reps. 10-20 for each foot. Sand scraping. Pretend you are at the beach standing in loose sand. Use your big toe to pull sand inward toward your body, with your little toe off the ground. Then use your little toe to push it away, with your big toe off the ground. Reps. 10 for each foot. Now reverse the exercise: pull the sand inward with your little toe and push it away with your big toe. Reps. 10 for each foot.