For all those suffering from a foot problem or the other, we may get confused with a condition or two and go through unfair treatment, making our feet health worse. While we can get help from our therapists and doctors, it is always best to know more about our condition to analyze better and undergo correct treatment procedures.
The treatment varies from one condition to another. While a single foot condition may trigger and affect another state, it is always best to treat the primary cause first. Plantar fasciitis is caused due to several other reasons like arthritis, previous injury, heel spurs, etc. Still, all of this does not necessarily have to be or lead to plantar fasciitis.
Therefore, we decided to clear the confusion and help you understand your feet better by listing and detailing several foot arch problems that are not plantar fasciitis.
What Causes Arch Pain
There are several medical and general causes of arch pain. While we would shed light on the medical reasons, the prevalent causes mostly pertain to lifestyle disorders and injuries in the feet. These could be:
- Weight gain or obesity that causes pressure on the arch
- Aging deteriorates our skin muscles and cushioning below the arch
- Overstressing the feet or overuse due to excessive activity
- Long hours of standing
- Ill fitted shoes
- Neurological conditions
- Genetic conditions
- Physical stress like accidents or injuries in the connected muscles, bones, or ligaments
Arch pain is widespread in athletes, construction site workers, retail shop workers, and runners. It can aggravate with age if not taken care of. For proper diagnosis, the doctor may suggest an X-Ray or checking through pressure points to determine the location and intensity of pain. Treatment for arch pain is usually gradual and can get better with proper care and supportive footwear with arch support.
Foot Arch Pain Causes That Are Not Plantar Fasciitis
For all those thinking that their feet pain or arch pain is nothing but plantar fasciitis, read below to better understand your condition and feet health for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Overpronation is a condition of the foot where it rolls inwards as you move. So each time your foot hits the ground, the fingers roll inwards, and the heel hits the ground first. Ideally, you are supposed to keep your feet in a flat position, so if you are over-pronating, you are stretching the muscles and the ligaments incorrectly, which results in over flattening your feet.
People who overpronate can also end up developing flat feet or plantar fasciitis in the long run. It can also lead to ankle sprains. One of the easiest ways to determine is to look at the base of your shoes. If the feet area’s big toe and ball of the feet look more worn out than the rest of the shoe around the insoles, which means you are overpronating.
You may not determine the signs initially, but it eventually causes pain as your feet do not maintain a standard shape.
Mode of Action:
To diagnose, your doctor may advise you to undergo a video gait analysis or 3D foot mapping test to determine if you overpronate while walking or stepping your foot on the ground.
The best way to treat or prevent overpronation is to wear orthotics, insoles, and supportive footwear. Individual doctors also recommend shoes for plantar fasciitis that are good to prevent overpronation. You may also want to follow good stretches like performing a duck stand or calf stretches to prevent the muscles and ligaments from getting affected.
Source: Researchgate.net, Ukm.edu.my
Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction is an injury of the posterior tibial tendon. This tendon supports the arch of the foot directly. PTTD happens due to excessive activity like running, walking, or any impactful actions that can directly impact the tendon and is very common in older people.
It can also lead to flatfoot or plantar fasciitis as the arch region, and the plantar fascia ligament is directly associated with this tibial tendon. This condition is progressive and usually keeps getting worse with time if not taken care of. It can cause swelling and flattening of the arch, which also causes a deformity in the ankle. PTTD can change the overall structure of the feet with time. PTTD is also called adult-acquired flatfoot and is mistook with plantar fasciitis.
Mode of Action:
In order to prevent PTTD, you need to start treatment at an early stage with the right care, stretches, medication, and supportive footwear. You can use some orthotic devices like shoe inserts and customized insoles to support your arch. Alternatively, your foot may also demand rest, including immobilizing the feet entirely and placing a cast around your feet if required.
You can also do some stretches and start with a course of NSAIDs after consulting with your doctor or therapist. Additionally, for long term treatment effects, you can choose to wear orthopedic slippers and shoes for support.
Cavus Foot is a structural deformity of the feet, and the person suffering from the same has overtly high arches. The condition may stress the heels, toes, and calves and make them prone to fractures due to excessive stress on the feet. They are also prone to calluses and hammertoes, and their overall stability while walking is affected.
This can be genetically inherited or could result from wearing ill-fitted shoes and even neurological conditions like cerebral palsy. Due to extremely high arches, the entire weight of the body is unevenly distributed. It can also lead to plantar fasciitis in the long run, as the two mostly go hand in hand.
Mode of Action:
Treatment and mode of action for Cavus foot would be supportive footwear as it is an unavoidable condition, and those who have it usually have to stay with it for life. However, once you visit your therapist, he may suggest some stretches to keep the ligament in shape and not stressing your feet.
You can also use ice therapy to reduce the inflammation due to stress on your foot. At the same time, orthotics and supportive insoles are an alternative to enhance the functioning and stabilize your feet-based activity.
With Cavus Foot, your doctor would suggest you invest in shoes for plantar fasciitis and flip flops with arch support to provide cushioning and stability to the high arch and balance the weight while walking.
A heel spur is a bony extrusion caused on the heel’s underside and develops due to excessive calcium deposition under the heel. Heel spur causes extreme pain in the heel region when there is impact and can also cause tearing of the plantar fascia ligament, leading to plantar fasciitis.
While the exact reason for the calcium deposition is unknown, certain doctors suggest that it can be due to the membrane’s tearing around the heel region. This tearing is caused due to excessive running and jumping and is especially common in athletes and runners.
Ill fitted shoes that do not provide decent arch support, stress on the heel bone or ligament, or even obesity are all causative factors of heel spurs. With severity, it can cause plantar fasciitis.
Mode of Action:
A heel spur can be best diagnosed with an x-ray. If the bony extrusion is too much, it may require surgical removal. Non-surgical modes of treatment are exercises and stretches, orthotic devices, athletic tapes around the heel region, wearing night splints, and orthopedic shoes or orthopedic slippers. These shoes provide good shock absorbance and reduce the overall impact on the heel. Losing weight is also a convenient option to reduce overall pressure on the heel.
Flat feet are often confused with plantar fasciitis, but plantar fasciitis is caused if your flatfeet get severe. Flat feet is usually a naturally occurring deformity or can develop over time due to ill-fitted footwear or age.
Flatfeet is where there is no natural arch in your foot, which causes the entire foot to come in contact with the ground, causing a more significant impact. All the weight is on the heel as well as the technically absent arch.
Flatfeet is commonly seen in babies, but with time, their arches typically form unless they have flat feet as a permanent deformity. This may not necessarily cause pain in the plantar fascia ligament unless it is overstretched due to activity. If your flat feet does not cause you any pain, then there is no specific treatment required. Else, it can cause inflammation with excessive activity and pressure on your feet.
Mode of action:
The best way to diagnose flat feet is through X-rays, CT scans, and Ultrasounds, as suggested by your therapist. To improve your feet’ condition, you can wear flip flops with arch support or plantar fasciitis shoes that provide cushioning and support to the feet for reduced impact and foot fatigue. It can also help prevent plantar fasciitis in the long run. Your doctor may also suggest some stretches to help develop the natural arch of the feet and relax the stiff muscles.
Peripheral neuropathy is a neurological condition that can affect your reflexes and thereby the actions caused in your hands and foot by your nerves. Neuropathy is also usually caused due to diabetes. Your doctor may want to review your entire medical history to understand the root cause of the nerve damage and the significant impact on your feet.
Due to nerve disorder, it can generally give you a burning and stinging sensation in the feet with each step and may get more severe after prolonged activity or rest. The symptoms being very similar to plantar fasciitis, are often mistaken as ligament pain, whereas it is a neurological disorder.
Mode of Action
Your doctor may suggest you carry out blood tests or neurological tests along with a full body checkup and check your reflexes and response activity. NSAIDs are given to reduce pain, while you can opt to wear supportive footwear for shock absorbance and reduced impact on the feet.
Tendons are present everywhere around your foot and are like thin bands that connect the muscles to the bones. Any impact on the tendons can cause sharp muscular pain and can lead to a fracture as well. The best way to detect tendinitis is through X-Ray, and over the long run, the course of treatment may include resting, athletic tape, compression sleeves, and supportive footwear.
Home Remedies For Arch Pain
Pain in the arch does not go that easy, and the best way to reduce the pain is to follow a set of home remedies for quick relief.
Here are a few remedies that we suggest you must try to reduce pain in the arch, irrespective of it being plantar fasciitis or any other deformity:
Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, this method is recommended by most therapists and doctors across the globe. Appropriate rest, regular ice packs to reduce swelling and inflammation, compression with athletic tapes and sleeves, and keeping it at an elevated angle while resting to improve blood circulation are all suggested methods to reduce arch pain.
With arch pain, it is suggested not to roam barefoot. Barefeet causes a direct impact on the nerves each time you place your step anywhere. Bare feet push higher chances of damage and injury.
Supportive splints hold your tendons and ligaments in place while also improving the blood circulation in the affected area for faster healing. Ask your doctor for the right kind of splints that you can wear over the day or night.
For long term care and treatment, remember to invest in supportive footwear only. Slippers and orthopedic shoes with arch support will help in maintaining the shape of the arch. Shoes for plantar fasciitis are designed so that they provide maximum cushioning and improved shock absorbance to reduce the impact on your feet.
For fast action, doctors may prescribe a set of NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, Advil, etc., to reduce the pain and inflammation on your feet. Make sure not to get addicted to them as they cause only temporary relief and can be harmful in the long run.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most commonly known foot conditions, but not every foot pain is plantar fasciitis. Due to pain in the heel or arch section of the foot, people start associating the pain with plantar fasciitis, but the condition is entirely different. It could range from cavus foot, heel spurs, overpronation, tendinitis, etc. These are related to plantar fasciitis and may eventually end up causing the same if not taken care of.
That’s why it is recommended to get your feet diagnosed if you have pain and consult your doctor to understand the condition. This helps in the proper course of treatment and targets the affected muscles and areas of your feet.
Additionally, for most feet conditions, stretching, rest, compression, exercise, and supportive footwear are essential to maintain happy feet. Read our article above and tell us if we could help you understand your feet associated pain better through the comments section below.
Brandon R. Katz is a registered professional nurse who has been instrumental in providing us with an informed opinion on the medical aspects of footwear. He graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and currently provides his services at a non-federal long-term care hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Brandon proves to be the champion in the group of expert writers with his in-depth knowledge in foot health, how to take care of it adequately, and what shoes, socks, or insoles will be supreme for you. He has previously worked with hospitals where he has foreseen both inpatient and outpatient departments and has been a practicing nurse since 2009.
Brandon hails from Jersey City, NY, and has a loving family of four with a small popper called Rozo. His decision to become a nurse arises from the desire to be in the position of helping and rehabilitating people.