DEFINITION: The arch of the foot is crucial in helping to absorb shock and stress for the body, ranging from basic activities such as walking to high-impact activities such as running. Arch pain describes pain on the underside or sole of the foot, particularly in the center of the foot, where the arch is located.
SYMPTOMS: Arch pain is diverse and varies widely. Pain may be experienced as a sharp pain while running; a dull ache after a period of sedentary activity; or a generally-increasing pain with increased activity.
CAUSES: Multiple factors may cause arch pain, including wearing shoes that do not have proper support or structure. Arch pain may result from stress, inflammation or injury to the plantar fascia, the ligament that runs along the sole of the foot; poor alignment; and injury or direct trauma to the foot. Arch pain may also result from environmental factors, such as running on surfaces that are too hard, too soft or uneven.
TREATMENTS: Prevention is key in keeping arch pain at bay. Wearing shoes or inserts that provide proper alignment, support and cushioning will support the arch properly, and help to minimize pain and discomfort. Should arch pain occur, icing the affected area for no more than 20 minutes may help to reduce pain. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication may also help in treating arch pain. Properly increasing muscle strength and flexibility will also help in preventing arch pain.