Cristin Boniello
Working With Pain In The Arch
Overview


Flexible flatfeet are considered normal in young children because babies are not born with a normal arch. The arch may not form fully until sometime between ages 7 and 10. Even in adulthood, 15% to 25% of people have flexible flatfeet. Most of these people never develop symptoms. In many adults who have had flexible flatfeet since childhood, the missing arch is an inherited condition related to a general looseness of ligaments. These people usually have extremely flexible, very mobile joints throughout the body, not only in the feet. Flatfeet also can develop during adulthood. Causes include joint disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, and disorders of nerve function (neuropathy).


Foot Arch Pain


Causes


Poor quality footwear. Excess weight. Commonly occurs in people over 50. Overuse or strain by athletes, especially runners. Plantar fasciitis can be caused by overuse of the plantar fascia due to walking or running in poorly supported footwear. It?s not surprising to note that healthy, active adults are the most common victims of plantar fasciitis: runners, joggers, basketball players, tennis and racquetball players? basically any sport that requires quick or repetitive movements combined with impact on the heel and arch of the foot can lead to plantar fasciitis. Seniors are also at risk due to the ligament and bone issues common to those of older years. Another leading cause of plantar fasciitis is being overweight or obese. In this case, while a sports-related injury may not be to blame, just the daily stress of walking with too much excess weight straining the plantar fascia ligaments can lead to inflammation and painful heel pain. Anyone whose job requires long periods of standing or walking is prone to develop plantar fasciitis as well. For those who develop arch strain or arch pain as a result of structural problems like flat feet, they require arch support that will accommodate their individual needs.


Symptoms


The foot of a newborn with congenital vertical talus typically has a convex rocker-bottom shape. This is sometimes combined with an actual fold in the middle of the foot. The rare person who is diagnosed at an older age often has a "peg-leg" gait, poor balance and heavy calluses on the soles where the arch would normally be. If a child with congenital vertical talus has a genetic disorder, additional symptoms often are seen in other parts of the body.


Diagnosis


The adult acquired flatfoot, secondary to posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, is diagnosed in a number of ways with no single test proven to be totally reliable. The most accurate diagnosis is made by a skilled clinician utilizing observation and hands on evaluation of the foot and ankle. Observation of the foot in a walking examination is most reliable. The affected foot appears more pronated and deformed compared to the unaffected foot. Muscle testing will show a strength deficit. An easy test to perform in the office is the single foot raise.


Non Surgical Treatment


An orthotic arch support, specially molded to fit your foot, may be part of your treatment. These supports can be particularly helpful if you have flat feet or high arches. You can tell if that is what is needed when short-term taping decreases your heel pain.


Arch Pain


Surgical Treatment


The main goal of surgery is to reduce pain and improve function. It may also reduce other injuries such as repeated ankle sprains and broken bones. Surgery may be considered if there is no relief with physical therapy, changes in shoewear and/or changes in activity. Some patients will also have tendon problems, ankle weakness and foot fractures. These patients may require other procedures to address related problems. If you have medical problems that make surgery unsafe, any infections or blood vessel disease, cavus foot surgery may not be appropriate. The surgical procedures involved with the correction of the cavus foot are varied. Theses may include correction of the bony deformity, ankle looseness and the muscle imbalances that cause the deformity. The goal is to provide a foot that evenly distributes weight along both inside and outside edges. A variety of incisions may be needed to perform the procedures related to the correction of the cavus foot.


Prevention


There are several things that you can do to prevent and treat arch pain. This includes Avoiding high heeled shoes, Stretching the calf muscles regularly, Wearing well fitted, comfortable shoes, Using customisedorthotic devices or shoe inserts, Elevating the feet and applying ice and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. You can also care for your feet by paying attention to any changes in your feet as you get older. It is normal for feet to lose some of their fat pads as a person ages. Your feet may get bigger, both wider and longer as well. Make sure that you wear shoes that are sturdy, but comfortable, and have your feet measured before you buy shoes to make sure that you are still wearing the right size. Shoe sizes vary from one brand to the next, so it is a good idea to have your feet measured every time you purchase shoes. When choosing shoes, match the shoe to the activity for which it will be worn. Within the broader grouping of athletic shoes, there are different categories with different features. For example, a running shoe has different features than a walking shoe. You may develop some arthritic changes in your feet over time, too. If you notice that you are experiencing more pain in your feet, see your doctor for an evaluation. If the pain is arthritis-related, your doctor may recommend medication or other treatment to slow the progression of the arthritis.


Stretching Exercises


Calf Stretching in Bed. As you may already know, the first few steps out of bed in the morning can be the worst of the day. Those first few steps can be enough to reaggravate your condition putting you into a cycle of inflammation and pain. The best way to help break that cycle is to stretch your calf before taking those first steps in the morning. When the muscles in your calf are tight, they pull on the heel bone, making your plantar fascia very taut and prone to injury. To help loosen those muscles, take a towel or belt and loop it around the ball of your foot. Keeping your leg straight, gently pull towards your body until you feel a stretch in the lower part of your leg. Hold that for 30 seconds and repeat up to 5 times before taking your first step out of bed. Plantar Fascia Stretching. Loosening up the tissues that are irritated probably makes sense to you, but you may not know how to do so. Luckily, there?s a very simple way. All you have to do is pull your toes up with your hand until you feel a stretch along the ball of your foot. You may feel the stretch anywhere from the ball of your foot to your heel. Holding this position for 30 seconds a few times can make a world of difference in your pain levels. Calf Stretching. I know, it probably seems like overkill, but stretching out the muscles in the lower leg is an integral step to recovery. There are two main muscles in the lower leg that attach to the heel, so we?ll work on stretching them both out. Stand against a wall and slide one leg back, pushing the heel down towards the floor (first picture). When you feel a stretch in the lower part of your leg, hold it for 30 seconds. After those 30 seconds are up, bend your knees until a deeper stretch is felt a bit lower in the leg (second photo). Again, hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat this until you?ve done it 3 times on each leg. Who doesn?t love a good massage? I suppose you could pay for someone to rub out the tissues in the bottom of your foot, but if you?re looking for a cheaper alternative, look no further than the humble tennis ball. Placing a tennis ball on the ground and gently rolling it under foot for a few minutes can help loosen up your plantar fascia, making it much less likely to become irritated. Put enough pressure on the ball to get a deep massage. You may feel some soreness, but back off if you feel any pain.Tennis Ball Massage While using the tennis ball is great for keeping things loose, sometimes it?s worth doing some icing at the same time for some inflammation control. Freezing a water bottle and rolling it under your foot for 10 minutes at the end of the day can be a very effective way to keep inflammation in check while staying loose. It might not be the most comfortable thing in the world, but ?Brrr? is better than ?Ouch? any day. One thing to keep in mind is that while these tips have been proven to work, they?re not an instant fix. It can take a few weeks of consistency with them before your pain levels begin to change. If you?re not seeing any improvement after making an honest effort, it may be time to look into some different treatment methods with your doctor such as formal PT, orthotics, a weight-loss plan, or others.
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