If bunions aren’t getting you down, maybe the arch of your foot is causing you pain. Arch pain or arch strain occurs when the tissues in the middle of the foot become inflamed and results in a burning sensation.
The arch of the foot is shaped by a firm band of tissue that joins the toes to the heel bone. This band of tissue plays a vital role in the proper mechanics of the foot and assists in the transfer of weight from the heel to the toes. Thus, when this tissue becomes inflamed, even the slightest movement can cause pain.
There are many different factors that can lead to arch pain. Often arch pain can result from a direct cause such as a foot injury or a structural imbalance of the foot, such as flat feet or a low or high arch. However, the most frequent cause of arch pain is a common condition known as plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is a condition that results from excessive stretching of the plantar fascia. This is a wide band of fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom surface of the foot. The inflammation of the plantar fascia usually causes pain to occur in the heel and arch areas. If Plantar fasciitis isn’t effectively treated promptly, further strain can be placed on the arch and a heel spur (a bony growth) may develop on the bottom of the heel.
The most common symptoms of arch pain are tenderness and pain in the arch region of the foot. Pain is usually severe when pressure is applied to the foot after a prolonged period of rest, such as after waking up from sleep.
The most common treatments used to help alleviate arch pain include:
• Supportive shoes - Avoid wearing high-heels as these shoes place a particular amount of stress on the arch region. Instead, wear footwear that properly fits your foot and provides it with proper support including shock absorbing soles, and a moderate, supportive heel. Furthermore, you should wear shoes to support your feet as much as you can. Also, limit the amount of time you walk barefoot, and don’t walk barefoot on hard surfaces.
• Insoles – Special insoles you can insert in your shoes known as orthotics help to alleviate pain by providing your foot with the support it needs to move normally.
• Stretches - Stretching your calf muscle and Achilles tendon causes you to flex your foot, which in turn allows you to stretch the arch. Stretching encourages circulation.
• Massage – Ice massages before bed can help ease sore feet and reduce inflammation. Another effective massage is to rub the bottom of your foot by moving it back and forth over a rolling pin. This helps ease pain caused by plantar fascia.
• Night splint – A night splint can help stretch the plantar fascia while you sleep and prevent stiffness.
• Anti-inflamatory medication – To help ease the pain you can take nonsteroidal anti-inflamatory medication such as ibuprofen. Acetaminophen is also often recommended.
If the above treatments fail to help your arch pain, or pain increases, it’s time for you to visit your doctor - or even better - a podiatrist. Remember, if you want to help heal your feet, you need to be good to them.
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