Arch pain, also referred to as plantar pain, is a fairly broad term that is frequently used when describing pain of the ligaments, tendons, bones, muscles and/or nerves connected to the bottom of the foot.
Damage to any one of the above can cause associated arch pain. While this type of pain may only last for a short period of time, it can get progressively worse if not treated appropriately.
Typical sufferers of plantar pain are individuals ranging anywhere from 30 to 80 years of age. However, younger athletes can also be prone to arch pain, especially if they take part in high-impact type sports (e.g. soccer, basketball, baseball, football, racquetball, hockey, karate and/or running). These types of sports often cause "wear and tear" on the feet.
Symptoms of plantar pain may include the following:
- Pain on the bottom of the foot (i.e. in the arch or natural curve).
- Burning sensation of the arch.
- Difficulty raising/lifting the toes.
- Inflammation of the foot area.
- Increased pain after resting or sleeping.
- Pain localized in the ball of the foot.
- Shooting and/or sharp pain in the toes.
- Increased pain when the toes are in a flexed position.
- Numbness and/or tingling within the toes.
- Generalized aching.
- Increased pain when walking barefoot.
- Increased pain when walking or running on hard surfaces (e.g. concrete roads, sidewalks, asphalt running tracks, etc.).
- Pain that worsens when you are in a standing position (i.e. putting weight on the feet) and/or moving but decreases when resting.
Common Causes of Arch Pain
There are several different causes of arch pain including:
- Plantar Fasciitis: Probably the most common cause is a foot condition known as plantar fasciitis. Severe arch pain occurs when the plantar fascia (i.e. band of tissue running along the bottom of the foot, from the heel to the toes) becomes inflamed following excessive stress/strain. Discover the many plantar fasciitis shoes and products Footwear etc. carries now, as well as specialized shoes from brands like Vionic with Orthaheel Technology.
- Prolonged Periods of Standing/Walking: Typically, individuals who spend long periods of time standing in one spot and/or walking a lot, as part of their job experience plantar pain. Cashiers, bank tellers and nurses are particularly prone to arch pain. As mentioned above, overuse of the feet from exercising and/or playing sports can also cause plantar pain. It may be worth investing in a set of insoles from a brand like Spenco that can provide consistent arch support to relieve ache and fatigue.
- Foot Deformities: Foot deformities (e.g. hammer toe, clubfoot) can also cause arch pain. Hammer toe is a deformity affecting the second, third or fourth toes. Bending abnormally at the middle joint, the toe resembles a hammer. Clubfoot is another foot condition where the foot itself is twisted inward and the toes point downward.
- Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions (e.g. diabetes, obesity, pregnancy) can put additional stress on the feet, which results in arch pain.
- Foot Injuries: Injuries to any of the 26 bones, 36 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments of the feet can lead to plantar pain.
It is highly recommended that anyone who experiences any of the above-mentioned symptoms of arch pain consult a qualified foot specialist in order to receive an expert diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan as soon as possible.