Author: Chloe Wilson - BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
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.
Most common cause of foot arch pain with damage to the thick band under the foot. Often accompanied by bone spurs
Cause: Long periods on feet, sudden increases in activity, altered foot biomechanics, muscle tightness
Symptoms: Foot arch pain near heel, worse in A.M. and with initial movement that gradually improves then gets worse again
Full Article: Plantar Fasciitis
Sudden, uncontrollable, intense muscle spasms lasting from seconds to hours. Affects 25% of people over 60, particularly at night
Cause: Dehydration, lack of vitamins & minerals, muscle tightness, fatigue, nerve damage, poor circulation
Symptoms: Sharp, intense toe or foot arch pain, muscle spasm, toe curling
Full Article: Foot Cramps
Pressure on the tibial nerve as it passes through the tarsal tunnel
Cause: Anything occupying space in the tarsal tunnel e.g. bone spurs, swelling, cysts
Symptoms: Pain on bottom of foot, pins & needles, numbness
Full Article: Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
Small nodules develop in the plantar fascia, usually in the middle of the foot arch
Cause: foot injuries, genetics, various medical conditions
Symptoms: Small, firm lump underneath the foot, toe curling, foot arch pain with pressure
Full Article: Plantar Fibromatosis
Inflammation and degeneration of tibialis posterior which supports the foot arches
Cause: High-impact overuse e.g. tennis or soccer, or injury e.g. a fall
Symptoms: Pain on bottom of foot and around the ankle, collapse of medial foot arch, inability to stand on tiptoes
Full Article: Posterior Tibial Tendonitis
Tiny breaks in one or more of the foot bones. Often develop when suddenly increasing training levels
Cause: Repetitive overloading from high-impact activities e.g. running & jumping
Symptoms: Localised foot pain around the site of the stress fracture, bruising, swelling, difficulty walking
Full Article: Foot Stress Fractures
Collapse of the foot arches so the sole of the foot drops down. Affects approx 30% of people
Cause: Pregnancy, injury, aging, excessive stress on feet
Symptoms: Fatigue in feet, difficulty rising onto tiptoes, foot arch pain, back and knee pain
Full Article: Coming Soon
Tissue & nerve damage due to reduced blood flow to the feet aka Immersion Foot. Typically affects hikers, festival-goers & runners
Causes: Prolonged exposure to damp conditions, poor foot hygiene, sweaty feet
Symptoms: Swollen, white/grey foot, prickly pain under foot, numbness, pins and needles, blistering and possible gangrene
Full Article: Trench Foot
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 treatments 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: 21/11/18
Next Review Due: 21/11/20