Foot arch pain is a common problem, largely due to the amount of pressure going through our feet, especially if you are on your feet a lot.
This is because the muscles and tendons that support the foot arches have to work hard to stabilise the foot and can quickly fatigue resulting in pain on the bottom of the foot.
Weakness and tightness in the foot muscles changes how the forces go through the feet and up the legs so foot arch pain is often associated with back and knee pain too.
So let's look at the most common causes of pain under the feet in the foot arches, and how they present, then we'll find out more about how to treat them.
The most common cause of foot arch pain by far is plantar fasciitis. This is where there is damage to the thick band under the foot.
Plantar fasciitis usually develops due to altered foot biomechanics, bone spurs and muscle tightness and often affects people who spend long periods on feet or suddenly increase their activity levels.
Typical symptoms of plantar fasciitis are foot arch pain near the heel that is worse in the morning and with initial movement. The pain underneath the foot usually improves as you get going but will get worse again with too much activity.
You can find out all about the common causes, symptoms and treatment options of this common cause of foot arch pain in the Plantar Fasciitis section.
Another common cause of foot arch pain is cramp. Foot cramps affects around 25% of people over the age of 60, particularly at night.
Foot cramps are sudden, uncontrollable, intense muscle spasms lasting anywhere from a few seconds to several hours. They result in sharp, intense calf, toe or foot arch pain, muscle spasm and even toe curling.
They may be caused by dehydration, lack of vitamins & minerals, muscle tightness, fatigue, nerve damage or poor circulation
You can find out all about the common causes, symptoms and treatment options as well as how to prevent foot arch pain from cramp in the Foot Cramps section.
Tarsal tunnel syndrome is one of the less common causes of foot arch pain caused by pressure on the tibial nerve as it passes through the tarsal tunnel
Anything abnormal that takes up space in the tarsal tunnel e.g. bone spurs, swelling, cysts will compress the nerve and cause pain underneath the foot arch.
Typical symptoms of tarsal tunnel syndrome include pain on bottom of foot, pins & needles and numbness
Find out all about the causes, symptoms and treatment options in the Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome section.
Another possible cause of foot arch pain is plantar fibromatosis, a condition where small nodules develop in the plantar fascia, usually in the middle of the foot arch.
Plantar fibromatosis may develop due to a foot injury, genetics or various medical conditions.
Typical symptoms of plantar fibromatosis include a small, firm lump underneath the foot, toe curling and foot arch pain with any pressure over the nodules.
Find out all about the common causes, symptoms and treatment options in the Plantar Fibromatosis section.
Muscle pain underneath the foot arch is often due to inflammation and degeneration of the tibialis posterior tendon. Tibialis posterior is an important muscle and its tendon plays a vital role in supporting the foot arches.
Tibialis posterior tendonitis tends to develop from overuse during high impact activities e.g. tennis or soccer, or following an injury e.g. a fall
Typical symptoms of posterior tibial tendonitis are pain on bottom of foot and around the ankle, collapsing of the medial foot arch and an inability to stand on tiptoes.
You can find out all about the common causes, symptoms and treatment options in the Posterior Tibial Tendonitis section.
Stress fractures, tiny breaks in one or more of the foot bones, can also cause foot arch pain.
Stress fractures are usually caused by repetitive overloading of the foot bones from high-impact activities e.g. running & jumping and often develop when suddenly increasing training levels.
Stress fractures typically cause localised foot pain around the fracture site with associated bruising and swelling, often causing difficulty walking.
Find out all about the common causes, symptoms and treatment options in the Foot Stress Fractures section.
People with flat foot often develop foot arch pain. Flat feet develop when the foot arches collapse causing the sole of the foot to drop down. Around 30% of people have flat feet.
Some people are born with flat feet but they can also develop during pregnancy, after a foot injury, when there is excessive stress on feet or as we age.
Fallen foot arches may cause fatigue in feet, foot arch pain, back pain and knee pain and can make it difficult to push up onto your tiptoes which can affect how you walk
Trench foot tends to cause pain on the bottom of both feet. Also known as Immersion Foot, trench foot is caused by tissue & nerve damage due to reduced blood flow to the feet.
Trench foot develops with prolonged exposure to damp conditions, poor foot hygiene and sweaty feet and typically affects hikers, festival-goers & runners.
Common symptoms of trench foot include swollen, white/grey feet, prickly pain under foot, numbness, pins and needles, blistering and possible gangrene if left untreated.
Find out all about the common causes, symptoms and treatment options, including which celebrities have suffered from it, in the Trench Foot section.
It sounds simple but footwear plays an important role in how our feet feel. Foot arch pain is often caused by ill-fitting shoes, especially ones with little arch support or that are too tight.
Footwear is particularly important if you are going to be spending long periods on your feet or for sporting activities such as running. Shoes should be supportive, comfortable, cushioned, provide the appropriate level of arch support and be the correct width.
It can also help to go bare foot when you can to reduce the amount of pressure and friction through the feet.
There are twenty-six bones in the foot.
The tarsal and metatarsal bones fit together in the middle of the foot and are supported by various ligaments, muscles and tendons to form the foot arches.
The arches of the foot support the foot and control how the forces associated with activities like walking are transferred up and down the leg.
There are two main arches in the foot, the longitudinal arch (indicated in pink on the diagram) which runs down the length of the foot , and the transverse arch (indicated in green) which runs across the width of the foot.
longitudinal arch can be split into two:
Anything which affects the position of the arches can lead to foot arch pain and discomfort on the bottom of the foot.
Treatment for foot arch pain will depend on what is causing the pain on the bottom of the foot. Typical treatment for foot arch pain include:
You can find out more about specific treatment for each different cause of pain on the bottom of the foot by reading the full articles for each condition.
If none of these is sound quite like your foot arch pain and you want some help working out what is wrong, visit the foot pain diagnosis section.
Alternatively, if you have other symptoms as well as pain, such as foot swelling, a rash or numbness, in the foot pain symptoms section we'll help you to identify what is going on and what you can do about it.
So don't let foot arch pain get you down, take back control today.
Page Last Updated: 05/26/22
Next Review Due: 05/26/24