Foot arch pain or inner foot arch pain can be a real problem for some people. It typically is due to one or a combination of issues occurring within the foot's arch structure. Typical symptoms include a ripping or burning sensation, foot strain, a feeling of pulling or tightness. Furthermore, foot arch pain can be sudden or occur gradually over time. Or, it can be a constant problem or appear only when the person is doing a lot of walking or other activities that involve being on their feet for extended periods of time. This problem can worsen if the person goes barefoot or wears inappropriate footwear. It usually occurs because the muscles and ligaments in the foot are fatigued. This fatigue causes the arch structure to weaken, thus causing pain. Many times, this can be avoided, corrected, and/or improved by wearing the appropriate footwear with proper arch support.
The Importance of the Foot Arch
There are four main arches that make up the arch structure of the foot: two Longitudinal Arches - the Medial and the Lateral, as well as the Transverse Arches – Anterior and Posterior. They distribute body weight to weight-bearing areas of the sole (mainly the heel and the toes). The arches also act as springs for help in walking and running, as shock absorbers when stepping or jumping; they act to protect the soft tissue of the sole, while reducing stress on your ankles, hips, and knees when absorbing the foot roll. Arches control excessive supination or pronation, improve balance and stability, and relieve pressure on the forefoot.
The Medial Longitudinal Arch is the most important. It is the higher and more mobile and resilient of the two longitudinal arches. The Lateral Longitudinal Arch is flatter and lower and is more rigid, having limited mobility. It transmits weight and thrust toward the ground. The Anterior Transverse Arch and the Posterior Transverse Arch are necessary for balance and the stability of the foot.
Common Causes of Inner Foot Arch Pain or Foot Arch Pain
There are a few types of common foot arch pain.
Trench foot typically affects those that hike or run. It occurs when the feet are wet for prolonged periods of time, either from weather conditions or sweat. It usually has common symptoms such as blistering, a feeling of pins and needles, numbness, prickling pain under the foot. The foot turns white/grey in color and have the appearance of swelling. If left untreated, it can turn into gangrene. It is caused by the reduction of blood flow to the feet.
Approximately 30% of people have flat feet, which is when the arch is collapsed. Some people are born with this condition, or they get it from constant excessive stress to the feet, a foot injury, or during pregnancy. Flat feet make it hard to push up with your toes and can cause pain when fatigued. However, proper footwear can help with flat feet by offering the proper support to the foot.
Stress fractures are another common cause of inner foot arch pain. This can be caused by excessively overworking the feet, such as training for a marathon. Or any excessive exercise that involves running or jumping. Typically, this type of foot arch pain is localized around the fracture but can lead to inner foot arch pain too.
Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
The inflammation and degeneration of the posterior tibialis tendon are a typical cause of inner arch foot pain. The posterior tibialis is a very important muscle on which the foot's arch relies. When this muscle is injured due to overactivity, it can lead to the inability of being able to stand on your tiptoes. It also causes pain in the foot arch and around the ankle area.
Planter fibromatosis is when small nodules develop in the foot's arch. It can be due to various medical conditions, genetics, or a foot injury. This is one of the most common causes of lumps on the bottom of the foot and can be quite painful.
Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
This is one of the least common issues that cause inner foot arch pain, but still worth mentioning. This occurs when there is an obstruction of some sort in the tarsal tunnel that is putting pressure on the tibial nerve that passes through the tunnel. The symptoms of this are numbness, pins and needles, and inner arch foot pain.
Practically everyone has experienced foot cramps at some point in their life. Cramps are typically caused by a lack of vitamins and minerals, dehydration, poor circulation, nerve damage, fatigue, or muscle tightness. This is a very common cause of arch pain that can be prevented with a proper diet and proper footwear.
Plantar Fasciitis is the most common cause of inner foot arch pain. In fact, it affects 1 in 10 people at some point in their life. It typically develops when someone has spent long periods of time on their feet or has a sudden increase in activity levels. It occurs when there is damage to the thick band under the foot, called the plantar fascia, that runs from the heel all the way to the toes. This band is made up of three parts which are the central portion, medial and lateral portions.
Typically, people with plantar fasciitis also have a bone spur in their heels. This is because as the facia is pulling, it is the body's reaction to try to overcompensate for the pulling. It is so common that many people have mistakenly thought a heel bone spur is what caused their plantar fasciitis in the first place. But it's actually the other way around. Some common causes of it are:
- Gender, more women than men suffer from it.
- Age, we typically see this in people ages 40-60.
- Poor Footwear causing poor arch support
- Being overweight, a contributor to this condition
- Muscle tightness is another contributor to plantar fasciitis. Stretching exercise can help)
High arches are typically genetic. While flat feet can cause foot arch pain, high arches can also be a problem. This is because they typically are putting too much stress on the metatarsals, which are the bones just before the toes. High arches can find relief in proper footwear or, in some cases, arch supports.
A huge cause of arch pain, which can cause a combination of many of the issues above, is wearing unsupportive shoes. Having proper footwear is so important, especially if you are on your feet all day. Of course, it is natural to want to have stylish shoes. But it would be best if you also had stylish shoes that are comfortable, offering proper arch support and room in the toe area for your feet to lay properly. The proper arch support assists the arch in distributing the weight as you step. This helps prevent many of the before-mentioned issues.
Signs You Should See a Doctor
Most people can treat their foot pain at home. However, there comes a time when it might be wise to reach out to your doctor. First, you should start by trying to rest more, put ice on your arch, try compression footwear, and elevate your feet. This will help improve circulation to the foot. However, if that doesn’t help, you might want to consult a doctor to ensure there isn't something more going on.
Furthermore, if you are not getting any relief and the pain is constant, that is another time that you might want to see your doctor. You should seek medical attention if you have a fever of over 100º F or if there is any redness, tenderness, or warmth around the affected area. You should reach out if you have an open wound, cannot walk, or put weight on your foot. If you have diabetes, you should never ignore foot pain as it could be a sign of something worse. Foot issues are much more complex for diabetics.
Preventing Foot Arch Pain
The best prevention for foot arch pain is to ensure you have your feet properly supported with good shoes. Also, take the time to give your feet love with a good Epsom salt soak or foot massage. Always take the time to stretch before you exercise to help relax your arches. If you become injured, always take the time to heal.
If you are prone to arch problems, you might want to look into strengthening exercises to help improve your arch's endurance, stability, and strength. This helps build up the muscles around the arches to prevent injury. You can also try foot rollers that help massage the bottom of your feet, loosening up tight muscles.
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