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Arch Pain

Information for health

professionals on arch pain.

Arch pain is often felt as a burning sensation under the long arch of the foot. There are a number of causes of this, but the most common is plantar fasciitis, but can also be due to the strain of any structure in the arch of the foot.

Causes of arch pain

There are a number of possible causes for arch pain, but the most common are structural imbalances of the foot, such a pronated foot (rolls inward at the ankles). This is often not enough in isolation to cause the problem, but in combination with other factors arch pain may develop. These other factors are usually associated with overuse - running, walking, hard surfaces and/or OFAD (on feet all day), usually combined with inadequate or non-supportive footwear.

The more common specific causes of arch pain can be:

* plantar fasciitis (strain of the plantar fascia - a strong ligament that supports the arch)

* tarsal tunnel syndrome (a pinched nerve at the ankle that refers pain to the arch)

* foot strain from a pronated foot or flat foot

* there can be osteoarthritis of the joints in the midfoot that can cause arch pain


Self management of arch pain

The initial treatment for arch pain, especially if it is of sudden onset is the use of ice to reduce the swelling. Later heat and anti-inflammatory gels can be a big help.

Activity should be modified - if you stand a lot at work, see if you can using seating more; if you run a lot, consider swimming or cycling for a while.

Use footwear that is supportive in the midfoot and heel area.


Arch pain management

An accurate diagnosis from a health professional is important early in the management of arch pain.

If the symptoms are mild, management will generally just consist of advice about fitting footwear, stretching exercises for the calf muscles and arch and if indicated, the use of foot orthotics.

If the symptoms are more severe, tape can be used to restrict motion and support the arch; anti-inflammatory medication can be used to give some relief. Orthotics are usually indicated.

If there is no initial response to treatment, further investigations may be necessary to check for conditions such as arthritis or a pinched nerve.


Prevention of arch pain

Early in the treatment of arch pain, consideration needs to be given to the cause and strategies put in place to prevent it happening again. Advice should be sought on the adequacy of footwear. Stretching exercises should be continued long after the symptoms are gone. Foot orthoses should be used if structural imbalances are present. Activity levels and types of activities (occupational and sporting) need to be considered and modified accordingly.


Links of relevance to arch pain

Other foot problems: plantar fasciitis, heel pain, arch support

ePodiatry's database on: plantar fasciitis, heel pain

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ePodiatry is purely a source of information on foot arch pain and should at no time be considered as replacing the expertise of a health professional. We recommend seeking professional advice for foot arch pain and all foot problems before embarking on any form of self treatment or management. Neither the content or any other service provided through ePodiatry is intended to be relied on for medical diagnosis or treatment. Do not delay in seeking health professional advice because of something seen on ePodiatry.
2003. The information contained on this page about foot arch pain is subject to copyright. No part of the information  about foot arch pain contained on this page can be reproduced in any form without the permission of ePodiatry.

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