Arch pain is common in people with a typical structural problem known as flat feet. Arch pain may also occur in people with fallen arches (a fallen arch is one that has collapsed due to bearing weight). Flat feet can lead to extreme stress or inflammation of the plantar fascia, possibly causing severe discomfort and leading to other foot problems. Without properly supported arches, simple movement can pull your body out of alignment and cause stress, strain and fatigue to your lower body.
Flat feet are a common condition. The condition is normal in infants and toddlers. Flat feet occur because the tissues holding the joints in the foot together (called tendons) are loose. The tissues tighten and form an arch as children grow older. This will take place by the time the child is 2 or 3 years old. Most people have normal arches by the time they are adults. However, the arch may never form in some people. Aging, injuries, or illness may harm the tendons and cause flat feet to develop in a person who has already formed arches. This type of flat foot may occur only on one side. Rarely, painful flat feet in children may be caused by a condition in which two or more of the bones in the foot grow or fuse together. This condition is called tarsal coalition.
Flat feet can exhibit a variety of symptoms, from mild to severe. The extent of the flat foto does not always correlate with the extent of symptoms. Patients may complain of arch pain and heel pain. Commonly there is pain on the outside of the foot, where the foot meets the ankle as the collapse foot abuts against the ankle. Muscle cramps within the foot, and onto the leg (shin splints) may occur. In general, patients have pain with activity, such as walking or running. The pain may be deep and focal to a generalized widespread achy feeling. Irritation from shoe gear can cause redness and swelling. Common reasons patients seek treatment are pain, interference with walking or activities, difficulty fitting shoes, swelling, and notice a change in appearance of the foot and/or unsightly appearance.
A professional therapist may use tinels test to diagnose tarsal tunnel syndrome. This involves tapping the nerve just behind the medial malleolus or bony bit of the ankle with a rubber hammer. Pain indicates a positive test. Sometimes it is initially mistaken for plantar fasciitis which also causes pain from the inside heel and throughout the arch of the foot. Neural symptoms (such as tingling or numbness) as well as the location of tenderness when touching the area should help to easily distinguish between the conditions.
Non Surgical Treatment
Use corrective prophylactic measures. Purchase new shoes or replace the insoles of your current shoes. Athletic shoes lose the elastic properties of the soles through usage and age. A good rule of thumb is to replace your shoes every six months, more often if there is heavier usage. The use of after-market insoles can increase energy absorption and add support to the foot. Custom fabricated orthotics or off-the-shelf orthotics may also improve the biomechanics of the foot. Focus on muscle strengthening and flexibility. You may be given exercises to increase the strength and stability of the affected area and to correct muscles that may not be balanced. Exercises to increase flexibility will maintain or improve the length of a muscle. Flexibility helps to make a stronger muscle that is less likely to be injured.
Although most patients with plantar fasciitis respond to non- surgical treatment, a small percentage of patients may require surgery. If, after several months of non-surgical treatment, you continue to have heel pain, surgery will be considered. Your foot and ankle surgeon will discuss the surgical options with you and determine which approach would be most beneficial. No matter what kind of treatment you undergo for plantar fasciitis, the underlying causes that led to this condition may remain. Therefore, you will need to continue with preventive measures. Wearing supportive shoes, stretching, and using custom orthotic devices are the mainstays of long-term treatment for plantar fasciitis.
Drink plenty of water before, during and after your workout. Dehydration is a common cause of muscle cramps, according to MayoClinic.com. If your workouts are long and strenuous, drink a carbohydrate-based electrolyte beverage too. Warm up the muscles of your feet before you work out. A simple exercise is to write the letters of the alphabet with your toes. Perform the warm up with bare feet and exaggerate the movements to challenge your muscles. Wear properly fitted shoes. Visit a sporting goods store and get your feet and arches measured. Ask for help selecting a pair of shoes to fit your workout. For instance, if you play soccer, you need cleats, not running shoes. Take a break. Cramps can be your body's way of telling you you're exercising too much, according to MayoClinic.com. Rest for a few days, then resume exercise and see if you can complete a workout without arch cramps. Stretch. At the end of your workout, perform a few stretching exercises to keep your muscles from tightening and cramping. Sit down, lean over and grasp your toes. Pull the toes toward your body until you feel tension in the arch of your foot. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side. Another easy way to stretch your arch is to put a towel on the floor, curl your toes around it and pull it toward your body.
Start in an L-Sit position. (If you?re hips and hamstrings are tight sit up on a box or phone book to be able to achieve a tall back position. You can even sit on a box with your back supported against a wall!) Keeping the legs straight, but not locked, reach both heels out away from your body to ?Flex? the ankles. Try to avoid pulling back with the toes to flex. Keep the toes relaxed and lead from the heel to hinge the foot into the flexed position. Hold the flexed foot and breathe. Take 3-5 breaths and see if you can reach farther through the heel to deepen the flex on each exhale. To transition to the pointed position, begin by pointing the foot to move the ankles as far as possible in the other direction. Once the ankles have reached their endpoint, use the muscles along the sole of the foot to point the toes. Inhale to continue lengthening out through the top of the foot, exhale to deepen the contraction under the sole of the foot to point the toes. Take 3-5 breaths. Then release the toes, and begin reaching out through the heel to hinge the ankle into the flexed position to repeat the exercise. Continue to flex and the point for 5-10 repetitions.