The arch of the foot is a collection of bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles that are constructed to allow your foot to bear the weight of your body safely. These tissues and bones of your arch are in constant motion as you walk and run, absorbing impacts that might otherwise injure you. The arch of your foot has its limits, however, and arch pain can be a sign that you?ve passed those limits and injured yourself. Pay close attention to any pain you are feeling in your foot. What may seem at first to be simple soreness from being on your feet all day could be a sign of a more serious stress injury or repeated motion injury. Arch pain could also be a result of a fall or impact injury, so be sure to seek proper treatment.
The more common specific causes of arch pain (arch strain) tend to be Plantar fasciitis (strain of the plantar fascia - a strong ligament that supports the arch. Foot strain from a pronated / flat foot or high arched foot. Osteoarthritis of the joints in the mid-foot. Poor or improper footwear (high heels or athletic shotes). Tarsal tunnel syndrome (a pinched nerve at the ankle that refers to pain in the arch). There are two arches in each foot. The longitudinal arch runs the length of your foot, and the transverse arch runs across the width of your foot. The arches are made up of ligaments, which keep the bones of your foot in place. Arch pain can occur in one or both arches, but occurs most commonly in the longitudinal arch. If this arch pain (arch strain) condition is left untreated and strain on the longitudinal arch continues, a bony protrusion may develop, known as a heel spur. It is important to treat the condition and seek a proper consultation.
People suffering from pain in the arch sometimes complain of burning or soreness on the foot sole, which is worse in the morning and after physical activity. There may also be some tenderness when pressure is applied to the sole of the foot or heel. In addition to this, patients tend to complain of more pain when they stand on tiptoe.
Diagnosis of a plantar plate tear can often be challenging due to the complex nature of the anatomy of the foot. Careful history taking and an examination of the area of pain is required to determine the extent and cause of the tear. If necessary, further investigations such as x-rays or diagnostic ultrasound may be ordered by your podiatrist to help evaluate the severity of the problem.
Non Surgical Treatment
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.
There are two types of bone procedure for flat feet, those where bone cuts and bone grafts are used to alter the alignment by avoiding any joint structures, or joint invasive procedures (called fusions or arthrodeses) that remove a joint to reshape the foot. With joint fusion procedures, there are those procedures that involve non-essential joints of the foot versus those that involve essential joints. All bone procedures have their place in flat foot surgery, and Dr. Blitz carefully evaluates each foot to preserve as much motion and function while obtaining proper and adequate alignment. In many cases a flat foot reconstruction involves both soft tissue procedures and bone procedures to rebuild and restore the arch. There are several joints in the arch of the foot that can collapse - and these joints are non-essential joints of the foot. This does not mean that they do not have a purpose, but rather become inefficient is providing a stable platform for function. As such, locking these non-essential non-functioning joints into place is commonly recommended. These joints are fused together with screws and/or plates. A heel bone that is no longer in proper position and pushed outwards away from the foot can be corrected with a bone cut and realignment procedure, so long as the displacement is not too significant. A benefit of this surgery is that it keeps the back portion of the foot mobile, and helps the surrounding tendons work for efficiently in maintaining the arch. In certain flat feet, the foot is deviated outwards and away from the midline of the body. Sometimes, this is due to the outer portion of the foot being shorter than the inner portion. Here bone graft can be added to the outer edge of the foot to lengthen the foot to swing the foot over into a corrected position. This procedure is most commonly performed in children and young adults. A bone graft is inserted into the top part of the arch to realign a component of the flat foot, medically known as forefoot varus or medial column elevatus. The back part of the foot (called the rearfoot complex) can be the cause (or source) of the flat foot or the simply affected by the flat foot foot. In simple terms, the back part of the foot can be made to flatten out due to arch problems - and vica versa for that matter. Dr. Blitz specifically identifies the cause of the flat foot as this will determine the best treatment plan, as each flat foot needs to be evaluated individually. The rearfoot is made up of three joints, and depending on the extent and most importantly the rigidity of these joints, they may require fusion to restore alignment. When all three joints require fusion - this call is a triple arthrodesis. For completeness, isolated fusion of any of the three joints can be performed (such as subtalar joint arthrodesis, talonavicular arthrodesis, and calcaneaocuboid joint arthrodesis). The medical decision making for isolated fusions is beyond the scope this article, but Dr. Blitz tries to avoid any rearfoot fusion for flexible feet because these are joints are essential joints of the foot, especially in younger people. Those in severe cases, it may be advantageous to provide re-alignment.
The best method for preventing plantar fasciitis is stretching. The plantar fascia can be stretched by grabbing the toes, pulling the foot upward and holding for 15 seconds. To stretch the calf muscles, place hands on a wall and drop affected leg back into a lunge step while keeping the heel of the back leg down. Keep the back knee straight for one stretch and then bend the knee slightly to stretch a deeper muscle in the calf. Hold stretch for 15 seconds and repeat three times.
Inchworm. Stand with your weight on one foot. Raise the metatarsal heads of the unweighted foot while you pull its heel closer to your toes. Next, raise your toes toward the ceiling, and then relax your whole foot with it flat on the floor. Your foot should move like an inchworm across the floor. Reps 6-7 for each foot. Horsepawing. Stand with your weight on one foot and the other foot slightly in front of you. Raise the metatarsal heads on the front foot. Lift your heel ever so slightly off the ground, maintaining the raised metatarsal heads, and pull your foot toward you so that it ends up behind you. Return this foot to the starting position in front of you. You should really feel this one in your arch. Reps. 6-7 for each foot. Toe pushups. Sit in a chair with your feet resting on the floor. Raise your heel as high as you can while keeping your toes flat on the floor. This is the starting position. Using your toe muscles, roll your foot upward until the weight of your foot is resting on the ends of your toes, like a dancer standing on point in toe shoes. Roll back down to the starting position. Reps. 10-20 for each foot. Sand scraping. Pretend you are at the beach standing in loose sand. Use your big toe to pull sand inward toward your body, with your little toe off the ground. Then use your little toe to push it away, with your big toe off the ground. Reps. 10 for each foot. Now reverse the exercise: pull the sand inward with your little toe and push it away with your big toe. Reps. 10 for each foot.