Arch Pain — How A Chiropodist Can Help
- Are your feet burning?
- Are your arches aching?
- Are your feet sore when standing on hard floors for long periods of time?
- Do you feel like your arches are ripping?
Arch pain is also known as plantar pain and is a broad term many people use to describe pain in their muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones or nerves in the arch of their foot.
All these components are connected to the bottom of the foot; therefore, damage to any one of these can cause pain.
Pain in your arch may only last for a short time but can progressively worsen if left untreated.
Most people who suffer from this pain are between the ages of 30 and 80, but many younger athletes are also susceptible, particularly those who participate in high-impact sports, such as basketball, volleyball or running.
Arch Pain Symptoms
You should seek help at the first sign of symptoms. The sooner you can be treated, the faster you will recover.
Symptoms may include:
- Pain in the bottom of your foot
- Burning sensation in your arch
- Difficulty standing on your tiptoes
- More pain after sleeping or resting; it can feel like a stabbing pain when you get up out of bed or out of a chair
- Tissues warm to the touch
- Pain that increases when toes are flexed
- Aching and overall soreness
- Pain that increases when walking barefoot
- Pain that increases when walking on hard surfaces
- Pain that increases when standing (putting weight on your feet) or moving around and decreases when not moving
- Skin lesions; corns and calluses on the sole of your foot
Getting proper diagnosis by a chiropodist and getting treatment is essential.
What causes arch pain?
There are several reasons why pain in the arches can develop. It could be due to a condition known as plantar fasciitis. In which the plantar fascia (the band of fibrous, no-elastic tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot) becomes inflamed after excessive stress. Heel pain results from this inflammation.
Sometimes the pain is due to extensive time spent on your feet. Many people feel pain on the bottom of their feet after a long workday, hwile others overuse their feet exrcisising or playing sports. A foot deformity, such as hammertoe or clubfooot, can also cause this pain, as it changes the overall joing mechanics of the foot. Medical condition such as diabetes or obesity can put additional stress on your feet, thereby causing pain on the bottom of you feet.
Occasionally a large nerve in the foot can get ‘trapped’. This can produce symptoms of sharp, shooting pain or intense radiating pain through the midsection of the foot. It can also feel liek your feet or burning all of the time. It may produce no symptom one minute, then feel like a knife stabbed in the top of your foot the next. This is a problem called tarsal tunnel syndrome or tarsal nerve entrapment. It most often happens in people with a ‘flat’ or over-pronated (over-turned) foot. It can be similar to carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrist, only in the small bones of the feet.
The footwear you choose is important. Shoes should support all parts of your foot, especially the bottom. This is especially important when you spend excessive time on your feet. Or if you are obese, pregnant, or play a lot of sports. Or if you have injuries to any of the 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles tendons and ligaments in the feet can also cause bottom of the foot pain.
Diagnosing Arch Pain
To come to a correct diagnosis, your chiropodist and foot specialist will examine your feet physically. First, I will assess if you have any skin problems. Then I will examine your foot to look for deformities such as high or low arches, or to see if you have hammertoes, bunions etc. I will inquire about your daily activities, symptoms, footwear, medical history and family history.
If you spend a lot of time standing on your feet, running or jumping, you may be at a higher risk for pain in the bottom of your foot.
Arch Pain Treatment
How the pain in the bottom of your foot is treated will depend heavily on the cause of the pain. Diagnosing the pain while it’s in the early stages is important to determine the best treatment options.
If the pain is mild to moderate, simple improvements in footwear can help reduce the symptoms. Most patients use the RICE method for effective treatment.
RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. It involves resting the foot, icing it for 15 – 20-minute intervals, compressing the foot with a bandage if possible and elevating it at least 12 inches above the heart.
Anti-inflammatory and pain medications may also be recommended to help relieve bottom of the foot pain.
Physical therapy such as laser, ultrasound and shockwave treatment are also helpful in treating arch pain.
For more serious cases, steroid injections or foot surgery may help reduce pain and selling and correcting the underlying condition (if there is one). If you suffer from a severe case of plantar fasciitis and no-surgical methods fail, your doctor may recommend cortisone injections to relieve the pain.
Recommended Stretching Exercises
Plantar Fascia Stretch
While seated, cross your legs at the knee with the affected foot on top of the other foot. On the painful foot, grab the toes and pull them toward you slowly with your hand on the bottom of your foot (plantar fascia). Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 20 times.
This exercise is recommended before getting out of bed (when the pain from plantar fasciitis is most commonly felt). Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 20 times.
At first, this exercise should be done while seated, either on a char or at the edge of your bed. Roll a tennis ball or a rolling pin back and forth ten times, with the arch of one foot, then switch feet and repeat. Once you have practiced this for a while, begin doing it while standing.
If after a full assessment, it is determined to be an underlying structural cause of the arch pain which is putting increased stress on the soft tissue, a custom orthotics will be prescribed.
The orthotics will be designed to control the joints in the foot so that the foot will function properly and therefore alleviate the stress on the soft tissues.
Preventing Arch Pain
There are several things you can do to prevent pain on the bottom of your foot. Here are some tips to help you avoid this condition:
- Do simple stretches every day
- Wear good shoes that fit correctly and are appropriate for the activity you are participating in
- Make sure your shoes are in good condition
- Lose excess weight if possible
- Build your stamina slowly, especially with new exercises
- Rest and elevate your feet whenever possible to promote healing
- Try not to do the same activity every day for sports. Cross train. If you run one day, ride your bike or swim the next day. Swimming is an excellent exercise as it and puts very little stress on joints and overused soft tissues.
I am a registered chiropodist and foot care specialist and have been helping patients for over 20 years.
There are 600 registered chiropodists in Ontario and only 60 podiatrists. Chiropodists and podiatrists provide the same care.
Chiropodists today must complete 7 years of post-secondary education. We do complete case management of foot problems, assessing and treating the entire foot and its complications.
Chiropodist Trina Scarrow, BSc, DCh treating a patient with foot pain — for proper foot functioning and overall well-being.
I provide full biomechanical exams and gait analysis — I will be able to help address your foot discomfort by foot care treatment, custom orthotics and orthopaedic shoes, surgery, medication, laser or physical therapy.
Chiropodists and podiatrists are the only regulated health professions who have the ability to prescribe and provide custom orthotics as defined in the Regulated Health Profession Act of Ontario.
I want to help get your feet functioning better so you can feel better.