Arch Pain

Women standing on toes

COULD I HAVE arch Pain?

To investigate, take a closer look at where you feel pain in your foot.

Arch pain can also affect other areas of
your foot.

A Ball of Foot

B Heel

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS?

Drawn diagram of foot describing the causes and symptoms of foot pain

Your arch is comprised of your tarsal and metatarsal bones, along with supporting ligaments and tendons. Touch the top of any one
 of your toes and trace the bone down to the center of your foot. Your fingers will eventually trace a bone called your metatarsal. Attached to your toe bones, these five metatarsal bones help
you stand, walk, and run by distributing your weight evenly to
keep you balanced. Connected to your metatarsals, near the
back of your foot, are seven tarsal bones. Together, your tarsals and metatarsals form your arch.

Your arch runs the length of your foot, including the inside of your foot, giving it a distinctive contoured shape.

Your arches help you:

  • Absorb stress.
  • Stabilize your body for standing, walking, and running.
  • Help you adapt to uneven or sloping surfaces.

An important structure connected to your arch is your posterior tibialis tendon. This muscle originates behind your shin bone, runs inside your ankle, and attaches to several of your tarsal bones within your arch. This tendon is responsible for maintaining a healthy, supportive arch during your everyday activities.

When any of these arch-related bones, ligaments, and tendons are weakened or injured from overuse, excessive activity, or wear and tear from aging, then you may start experiencing arch pain. Read further from the experts at FootSmart, The Podiatry Institute, and the Running Injury Clinic to learn how to better diagnose your arch pain.

THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE arch pain?TAKE THIS SELF-ASSESSMENT

To figure out if you have arch pain, first identify what type of arch you have.

Self- Assessment
Quiz
Do this simple test on yourself:
  1. Get your feet wet.
  2. Stand normally on a flat surface where you can see the imprint of your feet, such as a sidewalk or a newspaper.
  3. Step away from your imprints and look at the wet marks.
Footprint showing what it looks like to have a low arch and the pain associated with it

You have a low arch if your imprint shows almost the entire bottom of your feet. A low arch accompanied by arch pain may be indicative of more progressive conditions such as excessive pronation, flat feet, and plantar fasciitis.

Footprint showing what it looks like to have a normal arch and the pain associated with it

If you have a normal arch, you will see an imprint with the inside curve of your foot missing. Even if your arch is normal, you still may experience arch pain.

Footprint showing what it looks like to have a high arch and the pain associated with it

You have a high arch if you cannot see anything but your heel and the top of your foot near your toes. This means your arch pain is likely caused by your weight concentrated too much in the ball and heel of your foot. That improper weight distribution leads to poor shock absorption and significant arch pain.

In addition to identifying how your arch type may affect your arch pain, also ask yourself:

  • Do I feel pain behind or on the inside of my ankle bone?
  • Does this pain get worse during walking, running, or standing?

Sometimes arch pain is a symptom of a more specific foot ailment. Read the following articles to see if any of these ailments are the culprit behind your arch pain.

If none of these foot conditions seem to apply, you may have a condition called posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD). When this tendon is weakened or overworked, it creates a type of arch pain that stresses your plantar fascia (the band of connective tissue that stretches from the heel to the ball of your foot), causes gradual fatigue of your arch, and decreases the amount of support your arch gets from the posterior tibialis tendon.

ARE THERE ANY SERIOUS CONCERNS WITH Arch pain?
Photo of a woman sitting down holding her ankle in pain from her arches

Do not let arch pain go without treatment. Because your arch supports the weight of your entire body, arch pain tends to affect other areas of your feet, ankles, knees, legs, and back.

Arch pain is a progressive condition that may contribute to more serious foot ailments such as:

HOW DO I TREAT AND PREVENT ARCH PAIN?

The following remedies may alleviate arch pain and help prevent additional foot and lower body health problems.

  • Orthotics or shoe inserts. These will help support your arch, stabilize your heel, and ease some of the stress on your posterior tibialis tendon.
  • Arch supports. Specialized arch supports help relieve some of your arch pain and discomfort. Make sure you know your arch type (low, medium, or high) since the shape and height of your arch support should match your arch type and height.
  • Strengthen your muscles. Work on strengthening your tibialis posterior muscle and stretching your Achilles tendon. These two muscles are instrumental in affecting your arch pain and any pronation you might experience.
  • Wear comfortable and supportive shoes with insoles that fully support the arch. Depending on your lifestyle, your shoes and insoles need to support both your everyday activities (like work) and more intense activities (such as running, jogging, or sports).
  • Wear night splints. Night splints help alleviate pressure on your arches by keeping your muscles properly positioned and strengthened while you sleep.
  • Use cold therapy. Massagers, wraps, and other forms of cold therapy help alleviate arch pain and discomfort.