Our feet are very important but are often taken for granted, in many cases resulting in injury.
The arch is one structure that facilitates the transfer of weight from our heel to the toes with its main structure being the Plantar Fascia.
Arch and Heel pain are the most common foot complaint experienced by thousands of Australians daily. It can affect one or both heels and is generally worse in the morning with the first several steps then easing off later as the tissue warms up.
The 2 most common conditions contributing to arch pain are Plantar Fasciitis and a Heel Spur.
The plantar fascia is a thick fibrous ligament that runs under the heel to the toes on the middle side of each foot. It’s main function is to be a natural shock absorbing mechanism, stabilise movement and assist with changes in uneven ground. This tissue isn’t like a muscle and has limited stretch so when there are greater forces placed on this tissue (varying reasons) it can result in micro tearing and lead to inflammation and pain in surrounding tissue. This pain can be at the heel (origin) or further along at mid portion or toes (insertion).
A heel spur is a bony growth on the calcaneus (heel bone) that develops over time. They are also seen at the posterior of the heel at the Achilles attachment (that is a discussion for another day).
These heel spurs are not always painful but if there has been stressed placed on the foot / arch this can become painful due to the surrounding inflamed tissue.
Pain upon the first steps in the morning or after periods of rest. This pain usually will ease off with walking as the tissue warms up and becomes more flexible and may go completely or be a dull ache. It can reoccur after long walks or standing for long periods.
There are many causes that may contribute to the over stretching of the plantar fascia:
– Low arch / flat foot (although high arches are not entirely immune from arch pain)
– Walking bare foot
– Unsupportive or inappropriate shoes for activity
– Weight gain – this can even be due to pregnancy
– Overuse due to sport or long periods of standing
These treatments can be used for short term or long term / prevention at home and with the support and direction of your podiatrist:
– Ice and heat pack therapy
– Sport strapping tape techniques to support the arch and reduce stress on the tissue
– Therapeutic ultrasound and Inferential therapy
– Correct footwear
– Injection therapy
So, if you or anyone you know has been suffering with painful arches I would strongly recommend making an appointment with a Podiatrist ASAP so we can provide you with treatment and a plan to resolve your foot pain.