No part of the foot is safe from foot pain. People with foot pain usually feel mild to severe pain in an isolated part of their foot.
Sometimes, the pain affects the entirety of either foot. In rare cases, the pain affects both feet at the same time.
Foot pain typically originates from injuries. These pains typically affect the foot on a superficial level, meaning the pain doesn’t originate from an underlying source.
Other forms of foot pain do originate from underlying sources, such as different bodily ailments. Other types of foot pain are just unexplained.
One of the most common places where foot pain isolates itself is in the arch of the foot.
Foot pain in the arch of the foot is known to be incredibly painful, as the pain that typically manifests there feels sharp and uncomfortable.
About the arch of the foot
The arches of the feet are the main bodily structure that absorbs and returns force from the body and back to the outside world.
When we move our feet, the arches absorb the force resulting from that movement, and then send back that force to the ground where we walk. That helps us build momentum and, essentially, use that force to properly walk.
The foot itself contains 26 bones. The metatarsal and tarsal bones join together in the middle of the feet to create the arches.
These bones are supported by various muscles, tendons and ligaments to maintain these arches.
The foot has two main arches. The longitudinal arch, as implied, runs down and along the length of the foot. This arch is commonly split in two, both parts denoted as the:
- Medial longitudinal arch, the higher arch found in the inner side of each foot
- Lateral longitudinal arch, the outer arch found on the outer side of each foot
As mentioned, the bones of the arch are held together by their natural shape and various bones, tendons and ligaments. Those essential components include the following:
- Fibrous tissues, also known as the ligaments
- Muscles within the foot
- Plantar fascia, a tough sinewy tissue that provides secondary support to the foot
- Fat pads, which help with weight bearing and shock absorption
Arch pain in the foot generally develops when something affects the position of the foot arches. Various problems with the feet often lead to arch pain.
Symptoms of arch pain
The symptoms of arch pain develop in different ways. Symptoms resulting from plantar fascia often develop at the bottom of the foot, usually along the arch.
In most cases, the pain manifests in one general area (all over the bottom of the foot), but it’s known to manifest in a localized area where the pain radiates strongest.
Pain from plantar fasciitis often feels like sharp or stabbing pain. The pain generally increases (and sometimes decreases) by stretching the arch. Some people are completely unable to move their feet at all.
On an interesting note, medical experts have a scale that grades different degrees of arch pain.
The following scale grades arch pain depending on how often arch pain occurs and its severity:
- Pain only occurring during activities
- Pain only occurring before and after an activity, but doesn’t affect performance during activity
- Pain occurring before, during and after activity that does affect performance during activity
- Severe pain that impairs physical movement, preventing any performance at all
Sometimes, the aforementioned sharp pain develops in a specific area of either foot.
You can usually tell if you test that area by applying a little pressure to the inflamed area.
If you do feel any sharp pains in your arch or tenderness in your foot, it’s advised to seek medical attention to get treatment.
The causes of arch pain
Arch pain is a common result from standing or walking around for a long period of time.
This happens because the force resulting from either action puts stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments supporting the arches.
The muscles, tendons and ligaments start wearing down and succumb to tightness and weakness.
Prolonged standing and walking aren’t the only causes of arch pain. Some common causes of arch pain include:
- Direct force trauma
- Ligament or muscle sprains and strains
- Poor bio-mechanical alignment
- Overuse and/or strain in the feet
- Inflammatory arthritis
- Tightness in the foot joints
Another common cause of arch pain is plantar fascia. The plantar fascia, as mentioned, is a thick connective tissue that supports the bottommost arch on the foot.
The plantar fascia runs from the heel (calcaneus) to the head of the metatarsal. If the plantar fascia becomes damage, it might cause the arch to feel deep and sharp pain.
The aforementioned sprains and strains, in addition to bruises and fractures, are known to originate from various types of stress that affect the foot.
Blunt force injuries, as an example, may damage both primary and secondary structures of the foot.
Muscles injured from incidents that affect the foot’s structures are likely to result in sharp arch pain.
Bone injuries of the foot often result from impact to the arch. It also results from repetitive trauma, which may lead to a stress fracture. Either incident is responsible for causing arch pain.
Sprains in the arch often occur when the ligaments can’t properly hold the bones, due to the fact that they become overstretched and worn down.
The muscles of the foot are also prone to overstretching and bruising, which may result in them becoming sprained or strained over time.
Sometimes, the arch can develop arthritis. This usually happens when the foot is subjected to repetitive movements over time. And, over time, these repetitive movements can overstress the arch.
Micro-trauma injuries are the most common cause of sharp arch pain. These injuries typically develop into conditions like stress factors, plantar fasciitis, acute arthritis and chronic arthritis.
These micro-injuries develop, as mentioned, when the body’s structures become stressed over and over again.
That repetitive stress causes the foot’s tissues and muscles to get damaged over time.
The most common sources of micro-trauma injuries involve several common factors.
Running on uneven or extra hard/soft surfaces, poor shock absorbing shoes or extraneous force on the feet (usually during exercise) are all common factors that contribute to the development of the condition.
I have had this pain before! Usually after long stretches of walking. I didn’t realize that bone injuries could be a reason for this. After reading this, it makes me more inclined to start wearing more supportive and cushioning shoes, that’s for sure.
I have had sharp pains in my the arch of my foot before. Sometimes when I’m flexing my toes, if I do it wrong I get real sharp pains and cramps. I run everyday now and sometimes I feel pains in my foot. This information now has me ready to get shoes that will lessen the “blow” and get foot cushions. I didn’t have any issues with my feet when I was younger, but as I get older I definitely feel it.
I myself have started having pain in the heel of my foot. My mother has told me that it’s the beginning stages of plantar facilities. Some of the exercises/stretches do help, but I’m glad to see an article, like this one, that explains more common foot pains, etc.
I get these after being on my feet in heels for a long time but that is because I spend most of my time sitting. I need to break that habit. I find that using a tennis ball and rolling it with my foot helps to stretch it out and relieve some of the pain in the arch.