There are 24 bones in each foot and it has two arches. Longitudinal arch travels across the entire length of your foot and you can find transverse arch running across the breadth. All the bones of the arch are held together to give the required shape to the foot and they are joined by soft tissues called ligaments which bind the bones with each other. Both the muscles and the tissue surrounding the bones offer secondary support to the foot. In addition, fat pads are also present in the foot which is responsible for bearing weight. A person will get arch pain if any of the above position goes wrong. It can be due to trauma or injury to the foot or tearing up of ligaments and tissues inside. Most of the arch pain in foot can be managed by giving complete rest to the foot and by taking pain killers.
Causes of Arch Pain :
It is the arches present in our foot that absorbs the pressure or force given by the body weight on the foot. They are responsible for giving back the pressure to the body when you are continuously on your feet. Any disturbance in the function of arch will cause pain to the foot.
Primary reason for arch pain is injury to the foot during a fall or motor accident. Sometimes heavy weight is put on the foot when you go beneath the vehicle during accidents. On such occasions, the ligaments or tissues may tear apart unable to bear the weight or impact of injury.
Arch pain can occur due to muscle strain or improper alignment of ligaments. It can be due to airline fracture on the bones when you hit your foot badly on something. The pain can occur when the joints are not able to bind together the bones when they lose tightness.
Plantar fascia is a group of tissues present in the arch and any injury to these tissues can cause severe pain. Since the foot loses support when the plantar fascia gets damaged the arch develops inflammation and pain.
Any abnormal stress on the foot like strain or stress and even fractures can cause arch pain. If someone steps on your foot it may cause contusion or bruise but if something falls on your foot with high speed the impact of collision could damage the tissues and may cause fracture. In this case, it may damage the secondary and the primary structure of the foot causing arch pain.
When the ligaments are stretched beyond its capacity it may tear apart the supportive fibers causing arch pain on foot. It can also affect the muscles which get strained during stretching. Overuse of foot by walking or standing for long time can cause arch pain.
Stress fracture can occur when the foot is subjected to repeated trauma or injury or due to hard blow and twisting of arch.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect the joints of foot causing stress and severe pain. Any type of arthritis pain can occur due to micro trauma injury to the joints. The joints are overly stressed making the underlying tissues to tear thereby damaging them.
Running on irregular surface or hard surface can damage your foot. Similarly using poor fitting shoes or hard shoes can cause misalignment of bones after long time.
Symptoms of Arch Pain :
There may be dull pain, warmth and tenderness on the arch region of the foot. Any strain on the plantar fascia can be felt at the bottom of the foot. Either the entire foot will be paining or only a portion of the foot will have intense pain. The pain may intensify if you are not taking proper care. The pain of plantar fasciitis will come down gradually as the soft tissues inside begins to heal. But if you are not giving rest to the foot, the pain may shoot up again.
Very often there will be specific pain at some point of the foot. For some people the pain will be felt only if they move their legs. Bruises, injury, loosening of joints, inflammation and tenderness are some of the common symptoms of arch pain.
A rotated toe is an indication of fracture inside. Some people may feel “crunchy” on some spots of the foot as the result of swelling.
Arch pain can be broadly categorized into four types.
Pain is felt only when the person is active on his foot. Pain will be there during activity but still he can manage to walk or run. In the third type, there will be persistent pain during and after the activity and it may affect walking. Lastly the pain will be so severe that it becomes impossible to perform any activity with foot.
The doctor will examine the foot and look for any injury or inflammation. He will touch the foot to identify any damage on the tissues or joints and also assess if there is any difference in bone alignment. If required, he may do bone scan or MRI scan for assessing the extent of damage on the foot.
Giving complete rest to the foot will reduce pain and inflammation in most of the arch pain. You can apply ice-pack or warm compression on the affected area. Taking rest will obviously heal the wound inside since you are not giving any stress to the tissues.
Do not apply ice directly on the foot; instead you can place ice cubes in a towel or plastic bag and placed on the foot for 15-20 minutes. This therapy is effective in reducing inflammation on the foot.
You should keep the foot in elevated position to prevent further inflammation of the tissues. Over the counter medications like Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen can be used to reduce swelling. You can also use arch supports or wrap bandage on your foot.
In case of severe pain you can consult your doctor who will look out for the real cause of arch pain. If needed, he may do corrective surgery or repair for intense form of damage. There are therapists who use machines for reducing inflammation and to improve blood circulation.
Use proper fitting shoes and always replace the insoles of your old shoes. You can consult the therapists for doing proper exercises to strengthen the affected muscles and to attain stability.
Many doctors insist on using gel heel cups for reducing the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Alternatively you can use arch supports in case you have flatfoot and other disability in the foot that needed support. Heel wedges and metatarsal pads are used for elevating the heel to remove the pressure from the hind-foot.