What Causes Arch Pain?
We all experience sore arches now and again after a long hike, standing in a long line or walking from one end to the other of a big shopping mall.
It’s normal for feet to get tired out sometimes, and there’s usually no need to worry unless the pain persists.
The arch of the foot is composed of the longitudinal arch, running the length of the foot, and the transverse arch, which runs the width of the foot. The arch of the foot is comprised of 24 bones, fitting together by the structure of the bones and with fibrous tissues called ligaments that hold everything in place. The muscles of the foot arch, along with a large ligament called the plantar fascia, provide the secondary support to the foot.
The arch of the foot is the primary structure that allows the body to absorb and return the force from standing, walking, running, jumping and everything else you do.
What Causes Arch Muscle Pain?
There are a variety of things that can cause or contribute to transverse and longitudinal arch muscle pain:
- An abnormal walking gait
- Vigorous high-impact exercise such as running, playing tennis or basketball
- Being overweight
- Wearing shoes that slant or cramp any part of the foot
- Wearing shoes that have worn down in the heel or sole
- A traumatic injury to the foot, including cuts, bruised arches, strains, and fractures
- The presence of arthritis or other inflammatory conditions
- The normal aging process
The most common cause of arch pain is inflammation of the muscles and tissues in the midfoot. A main component of the arch is a tight band connecting the heel to the toes, called the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is important for the transfer of weight from the heel to the toes. When the plantar fascia becomes inflamed, simple movements can become extremely painful, causing heel pain and arch pain. When this inflammation persists, it is known as plantar fasciitis.
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Sprains, strains, bruises, and fractures can be the result of a single stress or a combination of direct force trauma. Direct force trauma injury could be someone stepping on your foot, which would result in a bruised foot arch or dorsum. Direct force trauma can also damage the primary bones and secondary muscular structure of the arch. Sometimes lower leg injuries can cause arch pain since many of the muscles of the lower leg attach on or near the arch. If not taken care of, lower leg injury can lead to improper biomechanics of the feet and cause arch pain.
The bones of the arch can be injured from a single trauma or a repetitive trauma, also know as an overuse injury, both of which can result in a stress fracture. A sprain of the arch happens when the ligaments are overstretched and tear; muscles in the foot can also be strained by overuse, overstretching, and overloading most often happening from a single trauma.
Acute and chronic arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures are almost always caused by repetitive use injuries. A repetitive use injury is sustained when the structures of the body are stressed and re-stressed to the point that pain and damage occurs. Repetitive use injuries are commonly caused by running, either on surfaces that are too soft or too hard, shoes that have poor shock absorption, and too much exercise in duration or intensity.
Arch Pain from Plantar Fasciitis
Experiencing chronic pain of any kind can lead to feelings of fatigue, irritability and even depression. You may dread getting out of bed in the morning and wonder how you’re going to get through a work day without having to limp home at the end of it.
But here’s the good news:
The number one cause of arch pain is Plantar Fasciitis, and more than 90% of cases of this painful condition can be resolved with simple, conservative at-home treatments like rest, stretching and plantar fasciitis inserts. While extremely severe cases of Plantar Fasciitis may require cortisone injections or surgeries, most people can experience quick relief and eventual recovery with the right combination of non-invasive therapies.