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.
Having low or no arches is normal for some people. In these cases, flat feet are usually inherited and the feet are fairly flexible. Occasionally, flat feet can be caused by an abnormality that develops in the womb, such as a problem with a joint or where two or more bones are fused together. This is known as tarsal coalition and results in the feet being flat and stiff. Flat feet that develop in later life can be caused by a condition that affects the joints, such as arthritis, or an injury to a muscle, tendon or joint in the foot.
If you’ve ever seen your footprints in the sand and they looked more like bricks than feet, then you probably have flat feet. Simply stated, a flat foot is a foot that does not have an arch when standing. In the medical world, flat feet are associated with “pronated” feet. Pronated is merely the term used to describe the position of the foot when it is flexed upward (dorsiflexed), turned away from the body (abducted), and the heel is rolled outward (everted), all at the same time. A certain amount of pronation is required for normal walking, but too much pronation is often considered a foot’s “worst enemy.” Over time, excessive pronation can lead to many unpleasant problems including heel pain, bunions, hammertoes, shin splints, and even knee, hip, or back pain. In fact, one orthopedic surgeon discovered that 95% of his total knee replacement patients and 90% of his total hip replacement patients had flat feet. An easy way to tell if you pronate too much is to take a look at your athletic shoes-excessive wearing of the inside heel (arch side of the shoe) as compared to the outside is a classic indication of excessive pronation.
Flat feet are easy to identify while standing or walking. When someone with flat feet stands, their inner foot or arch flattens and their foot may roll over to the inner side. This is known as overpronation. To see whether your foot overpronates, stand on tiptoes or push your big toe back as far as possible. If the arch of your foot doesn’t appear, your foot is likely to overpronate when you walk or run. It can be difficult to tell whether a child has flat feet because their arches may not fully develop until they’re 10 years of age.
Non Surgical Treatment
What remedies work best depends on the source of your pain. Stretches help tightened, overused muscles to relax, and exercises help weakened ones to regain the strength they need to hold your foot in its proper place. Prescription orthotics add extra support and help your arch more efficiently distribute weight. Changing your shoes to ones that better cushion and brace your foot also help. Generally flatfoot pain doesn?t require surgery, unless the problem was caused by a torn tendon. You may then need a procedure to repair the damaged tissue and realign your arch.
If you have pain that has not been responsive to other treatments, there is a new non-surgical treatment that was recently approved by the FDA. ESWT (extracorporeal shockwave therapy) uses strong electrohydraulic acoustic (sound) energy that triggers the body?s natural repair mechanism. This treatment method is safe, effective and requires a very short recovery period compared to older surgical techniques.
It is possible to prevent arch pain by wearing well-fitting shoes while performing any physical activity. Many times doctors will suggest a therapeutic shoe with a higher heel to relieve the pressure on the achilles tendon and also the arch muscle (plantar fasciitis). People with arch pain suffer from regular flare-ups of pain. However there is no risk to others as this is not a contagious condition.