Foot arch pain: 5 causes and treatments for you

Foot Pain Treatment

Foot pain can be frustrating because it can make everyday actions difficult, such as walking your dog in the park or going up the stairs in your house. While pain in any area of the foot can make you want to lie down until it goes away, let’s focus on the part located on the inside of the foot, called the arch.

There are actually three arches of your foot, but many people use “the arch” to refer to the largest longitudinal arch that runs down the inner length of the foot, called the medial arch. It’s essentially the curve in between your ball and heel. There’s also the lateral arch, which is flatter and runs on the outside of the foot, as well as the transverse arch, located in the forefoot.

Foot arches are responsible for absorbing shock as you walk. When your arches are impacted by an injury or medical condition, you may experience pain and related symptoms as you move. By learning about the potential cause of the pain in your arch, you can be proactive about effective treatment options and reduce the pain.

We’ll talk about the potential reasons for your foot arch pain, treatment options that you should test out and how Excel PT can help. 

5 causes of foot arch pain

When you’re experiencing foot arch pain, it shouldn’t always be shrugged off as temporary or “no big deal.” Since your feet are the foundation for your entire body, it’s important that they’re properly taken care of to reduce the risk of further issues and decreased mobility. That’s why learning the root cause of your foot arch pain is essential.

If you’re feeling persistent or worsening foot arch pain, talk to your physician or podiatrist to discuss the possible injury or medical condition behind it. They’ll carry out a physical evaluation of your foot, order the required lab tests, and carry out imaging tests, such as an X-ray or ultrasound, to reach a diagnosis.

Here are five potential explanations for your foot arch pain.

  • Plantar fasciitis — Your plantar fascia is the band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes, covering the bones located at the bottom of your foot. It works to maintain your arch by creating tension. It’s common for this tissue to become inflamed if it becomes overstretched. While pain in the heel is the most common symptom of plantar fasciitis, it can also cause pain in the arch, ranging from dull to sharp. It’s especially common among athletes, such as runners.  
  • Over-pronation — Pronation refers to how your foot moves when it hits the ground while walking or running. Over-pronation means that your foot rolls inward while you move because the outer area of the heel hits the ground first, causing the arch to flatten more than it should. It can damage the ligaments, tendons and muscles, causing arch pain, as well as knee, hip and back pain.
  • Flat feet — If you have little to no arch, that means that the entire sole of your foot touches the ground. Flat feet, or pes planus, is a condition that many people are born with due to genetics, but the arch can also flatten over time due to injury, obesity or aging. While it doesn’t always cause issues, many people with flat feet may experience arch pain as well as develop balance and gait problems.
  • High arch — Now that we’ve covered flat feet, let’s look at the opposite. Pes cavus, or high arch, means that the arch of your foot is higher than normal. Having high arches puts excessive stress on the heel and ball of your feet as you stand and walk. Along with having arch pain, pes cavus can also lead to ankle instability. While high arches can stem from genetics, they can also come from cerebral palsy or having a stroke.
  • Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction — Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD) refers to damage or inflammation of the tendon that connects the inner part of your foot to one of your calf muscles. This condition can cause the arch to not have the support that it needs, possibly leading to pain in the arch as well as in the inner part of the ankle and the back of the calf. 

5 treatments for your foot arch pain

Arch pain can interfere with your overall quality of life by preventing you from enjoying vacations, taking long walks on the weekend and being active. But once you talk to your doctor or a podiatrist about your pain, they can pinpoint the cause of your symptoms. Then they can recommend the best treatment options to help you not only alleviate it but also restore your regular mobility.

There are many courses of action worth exploring to treat arch pain. Some treatments are self-care options that you can do on your own, while others require the assistance of a health care professional, such as your doctor or a physical therapist. Here are five that are worth trying out:

  • Rest — While it’s always easier said than done, try to rest your affected foot regularly throughout the day. Since the arch is impacted so much from simply standing and walking, it’s important to reduce the stress on it to give your foot time to heal. The most effective way to do that is to stay off your feet when possible and avoid activities that may aggravate the symptoms.
  • Exercises — Nearly every type of pain can benefit from exercises, whether that be strengthening exercises to boost the support of the affected muscles or stretches to increase the area’s flexibility and mobility. A physical therapist can guide you through safe and effective exercises that will not only alleviate your arch pain, but also improve the overall quality of the arch to reduce the risk of future injury or pain.
  • Cortisone injections — Depending on the cause and severity of your arch pain, your doctor may recommend steroid injections, known as cortisone, to reduce pain and inflammation. It’s a common treatment option for people struggling with plantar fasciitis pain.
  • Supportive footwear — Nearly every type of foot condition would benefit from the use of additional support in your footwear. This mostly refers to cushions or orthotic inserts in your shoes. The goal of these supportive devices is to make sure that your arches have the support they need to keep you balanced while evenly distributing weight throughout your foot while you walk. 
  • Soft tissue mobilization — Manual therapy is often one of the first courses of action used by physical therapists for pain anywhere on the body, including the arch of your foot. A common manual therapy technique they may utilize is soft tissue mobilization. They use their hands to find and break up the tight tissue that’s contributing to your pain with gentle massage-like movements.

At Excel Sports & Physical Therapy, we want to make sure that you’re able to return to your daily activities with comfort and ease after treating your arch pain. We’ll start off by evaluating your symptoms as well as your foot’s mobility and function. We’ll use our insight and expertise to determine the most likely cause of your arch pain, as well as the best treatment options to address it. 

With treatments like manual therapy and soft tissue mobilization, you can be back on your feet (literally) without having to wince in pain with every step. 

Call us or request an appointment today for the best treatment options that can help your foot arch pain.