Does pain in the arch of your foot hold you back from enjoying a walk, playing with your kids, or hitting the gym? It’s time to seek professional help. Several underlying conditions cause pain in this area. Let's explore what might be causing your discomfort so you can find lasting relief and get back to your active lifestyle.

What is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a common source of heel and arch pain. Think of your plantar fascia as a strong band of tissue stretching along the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel to your toes. It acts like a support cable for your arch, absorbing shock with every step.

Unfortunately, this tough tissue can become strained and irritated. When this happens, it leads to inflammation and tiny tears in the plantar fascia. This is what we call plantar fasciitis.

Overlooked Causes of Pain in the Arch of Your Foot

If you experience heel pain, plantar fasciitis might not be the only cause.  Several other conditions can trigger similar discomfort and require different treatment approaches. 

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD)

The posterior tibial tendon supports your arch. When this tendon weakens, often due to overuse or age, your arch can flatten. This condition, known as PTTD, causes pain on the inside of your foot and ankle. PTTD typically worsens over time if not addressed, affecting your ability to walk comfortably.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

On the inside of your ankle, a narrow passageway houses nerves, blood vessels, and tendons. When a nerve in this "tunnel" is compressed, it causes tarsal tunnel syndrome. This causes tingling, numbness, and a burning, shooting pain that can spread from your ankle into your arch.

Stress Fractures

Repetitive stress and overuse can create tiny cracks in your foot bones. These are stress fractures. While often associated with athletes,  stress fractures can affect anyone. Arch pain is a common symptom, especially if you lead an active lifestyle.

Referred Pain

Surprisingly, the source of your arch pain might not originate in your foot itself. Conditions like sciatica (affecting the sciatic nerve in your lower back) or other lower back problems can send pain signals down into your leg and even reach your arch. That’s why you need a thorough podiatric evaluation to pinpoint the root cause of your discomfort.

Diagnosing The Cause of Your Arch Pain

Finding out the source of your arch pain starts with a visit to a podiatrist. These specialists are highly trained in diagnosing and treating the various conditions that can trigger discomfort in this area. During your appointment, your podiatrist will conduct a comprehensive examination, including:

Medical History

They'll ask about your symptoms, activity levels, past injuries, and any existing medical conditions.

Physical Exam

Your podiatrist will examine your feet and ankles, checking for tenderness, any deformities (like flat feet), swelling, and your range of motion.

Gait Analysis

They may observe your walking pattern to assess for imbalances or irregularities that might contribute to arch pain.

Imaging Tests

If needed, your podiatrist might order imaging tests like X-rays, ultrasounds, or MRIs. These provide a clear view of the bones, tendons, and other internal structures within your feet.

If your podiatrist suspects plantar fasciitis, they'll look for telltale signs, including pain concentrated in your heel or arch, particularly where the plantar fascia attaches to your heel bone.  

They'll also pay attention to pain patterns, as plantar fasciitis often causes sharp, stabbing pain most intense in the morning or after rest. This may improve slightly with movement but can intensify again with prolonged activity.

Home Remedies to Manage Arch Pain

While some causes of arch pain require professional treatment, there are home remedies you can try to reduce discomfort.

RICE Method: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This time-tested approach helps reduce inflammation and pain.

Arch-Targeted Stretches & Massage: Simple stretches and self-massage techniques can loosen tight tissues and improve blood flow to the affected area. 

Over-the-Counter Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) can offer temporary relief.

Supportive Footwear & Orthotics: Choose shoes with proper arch support and cushioning. Custom-made orthotics can provide additional support for your foot structure.

When to Seek Professional Help from a Podiatrist

Don't tolerate severe arch pain. See your podiatrist if you experience:

  • Pain that worsens or doesn't improve with home care after a week or two.
  • Difficulty walking or changes in how you walk.
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in your feet.
  • A suspected injury or an underlying health condition like diabetes.

Get Specialized Care for Arch Pain

At Haro Podiatry Center, we can identify and address the root cause of your discomfort. After a thorough diagnosis, your podiatrist will develop a treatment plan to relieve your foot pain. 

We offer a wide range of treatment options, including custom-made orthotics, physical therapy, and injections for severe inflammation. In rare cases where conservative treatments aren't effective, surgery may be necessary to address underlying structural problems or chronic pain.

How To Treat Plantar Fasciitis

If plantar fasciitis is causing your arch pain, your treatment plan may involve various approaches to promote healing and reduce discomfort. 

Your plan might include reducing high-impact activity temporarily, applying ice packs to manage pain and swelling, and using orthotics or heel cushions for extra support. Night splints can also gently stretch the plantar fascia and calf muscles while you sleep. 


Additionally, avoiding walking barefoot (even at home) is advisable. Targeted stretches improve flexibility, and a physical therapist can guide you through exercises designed to strengthen your arch. In severe cases, injections or surgery might be options your podiatrist discusses with you.

Stop Arch Pain from Slowing You Down

Remember, the pain in the arch of your food comes from various causes, not just plantar fasciitis. Conditions like tendon problems, nerve issues, stress fractures, or even pain referred from elsewhere in your body can all affect your arch. Finding the true cause is the first step towards getting effective treatment and feeling better.

Don’t wait for the pain to worsen. Seek professional help from a podiatrist to identify the root of your arch pain and create a treatment plan that works for you.

Ibrahim Haro, DPM
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NJ podiatrist helping Clifton area patients with diabetic foot care, foot pain, flat feet, and neuropathy.
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