By Yolanda Smith, BPharm
Arch pain, also known by the medical term plantar pain, refers to pain in the arch at the bottom of the foot. This pain can present as a result of various causes, usually following activities that involve significant stress to the arch of the foot.
The arches of the feet are a principle structure of the foot, which play an important role to absorb and return the force between the body and the ground, supporting bodily movement when people are on their feet. However, when the arches are put under excessive stress due to intense movements or extended periods of time standing on their feet, injury and pain to the area can present.
The most common cause of arch pain is a condition known as plantar fasciitis, which involves inflammation of the plantar fascia connective tissue along the arch of the foot. This usually follows excessive stress to the area from activities such as extended periods of time spent on feet at work or after sporting activities.
Injury to the arch of the foot can occur due to direct force trauma can result in pain and inflammation. This may include:
- Ligament sprains
- Muscle strains
- Biomechanical misalignment
- Fractures due to mechanical stress
- Muscle overuse
- Inflammatory arthritis
Activities that are most likely to cause damage to the foot arch include those that involve a significant amount or extended period of stress to the feet. This includes intense sport activities, long distance running and simply standing on the feet all day in a workplace environment.
Some deformities of the foot, such as hammertoe or clubfoot, may also cause arch pain. Additionally, people with abnormal arches of the feet are more likely to be affected by arch pain, including both people with flat feet and those with high arches.
Sudden Weight Changes
Drastic changes in weight that occur over a short period of time can be responsible for causing stress to the arch of the foot and result in arch pain.
In particular, people who are obese, have Type 2 diabetes mellitus, or are pregnant are more likely to be affected by excess stress on their feet and report symptoms of arch pain.
Inappropriate footwear that is ill-fitting or does not provide adequate support to the food and may lead to pain and inflammation in the arch of the foot. The sole of the shoe is of particular importance and those with poor arch support or soft soles are most likely to cause problems.
The structure of the foot is very complex and, for this reason, an individual that is experiencing arch pain should be referred to a podiatrist who will make the relevant investigations as to the cause of the condition.
This usually begins with a physical examination of the foot and a consultation about the medical history and events recent that may have caused the pain. There is often evidence of a lump or bruise in the arch of the foot that is evidence of damage to the connective tissue.
Other tests that may be used to determine the cause of the arch pain include X-ray imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans.
Last Updated: Mar 25, 2016