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Arch Pain

Arch Pain

Alternate Names

  • Arch of foot
  • Plantar fascia


Arch pain is caused by an inflammation of the plantar arch, or plantar fascia. The condition is also called plantar fasciitis.

What is going on in the body?

The plantar arch starts at the heel bone and runs to the base of the toes. Arch pain occurs when this membrane becomes inflamed due to constant strain. This causes pain in the arch of the foot. A person will often feel pain in the heel as well.


What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The causes and risk of arch pain include:
  • problems with physical training. This can include rapidly increasing mileage when running, running on steep hills, or wearing improper footwear.
  • abnormal anatomy and position and of the foot
  • certain types of arthritis
  • obesity from lack of exercise due to the pain


What can be done to prevent the condition?

There are several sports safety measures that can help prevent arch pain. It is important to wear well-fitting footwear appropriate for the type of physical activity one is doing.
People with this condition may be instructed to walk or run with their toes turned in an inward position. This helps to distribute the weight to the outer side of the foot instead of on the big toe area.


How is the condition diagnosed?

The healthcare professional will make a diagnosis based on the person's symptoms. The individual will feel tenderness on the inner part of the heel when the examiner is pushing on the area. An X-ray may show a spur or abnormal bone growth on the heel.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

People with arch pain may continue to have flare-ups of pain. If the condition is not successfully treated, the individual may become physically inactive, putting him- or herself at somewhat increased risk for heart disease or obesity.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

There are no risks to others since this condition is not contagious.


What are the treatments for the condition?

Treatment of arch pain includes rest, ice, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). Wearing shoes that fit properly is important. Also, padded heel cups or other devices inserted into the shoe may be needed.
In most cases, stretching exercises or physical therapy is helpful.
An injection of corticosteroids to the area may help reduce pain and inflammation. Ultrasound therapies can be helpful. Surgery is used in the unusual event that all other treatments have failed to reduce the symptoms.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

NSAIDs can cause stomach upset and allergic reactions. Repeated injections of corticosteroids can cause damage to the tissues. Surgery can be complicated by bleeding, infection, or an a reaction to the anesthetic.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

The person should reduce physical activity until symptoms have improved. When symptoms are gone, the individual can start slowly to return to normal activities.


How is the condition monitored?

A person with this condition can monitor his or her symptoms at home.


Charles E. Saunders, Mary T. Ho (eds): In Current Emergency Diagnosis and Treatment. Fourth edition, 1992.

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