Heel Arch Pain Treatment

Overview

The arch functions as a shock absorber for our entire body. Each time we step down, we place up to 5 times our body weight on the foot, depending on whether we are walking, running, or jumping. If there were no shock absorber in the foot, the force of each step would fracture or dislocate the bones of the foot, leg, and lower back. When pain occurs in the arch, it is telling us it is "sick" and cannot function properly. If left untreated, it can cause constant pain throughout the entire foot, and eventually the knee, hip, and lower back.

Arch Pain

Causes

Spending a lot of time on your feet. Especially when you are not used to doing so. For example you may have started a new job such as waiting tables where you are on your feet all day and wake up the next day with sore feet. This is a sign of damage and over time could lead to plantar fasciitis. Being Over-Weight. Never an easy topic to discuss but in simple terms, the heavier you are, the greater the burden on your feet. There are times when you're walking when your entire body weight is borne on one leg and therefore one foot, placing great strain on the plantar fascia. Wearing shoes with poor arch support or cushioning. A tight Achilles tendon. This is the big tendon at the bottom of your calf muscles above your heel. If this is excessively tight this can affect your ability to flex your ankle and make you more likely to damage your plantar fascia. Suddenly changing your exercise routine. Using running as an example if you suddenly run many more miles than your are used to or change to a new running surface e.g. grass to tarmac - these factors can put excessive strain on the plantar fascia and lead to plantar fasciitis. All of these risk factors ultimately lead to a specific change in foot structure. The term given is over-pronation and this basically describes rolling in of the foot and lowering of the arches. It is this change that excessively elongates the plantar fascia which can lead to plantar fasciitis.

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

A professional therapist may use tinels test to diagnose tarsal tunnel syndrome. This involves tapping the nerve just behind the medial malleolus or bony bit of the ankle with a rubber hammer. Pain indicates a positive test. Sometimes it is initially mistaken for plantar fasciitis which also causes pain from the inside heel and throughout the arch of the foot. Neural symptoms (such as tingling or numbness) as well as the location of tenderness when touching the area should help to easily distinguish between the conditions.

Non Surgical Treatment

Stretch the fascia. Prop your toes up against a wall, keeping your arch and heel flat so the toes stretch. Hold for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times three or four times per day. Roll a frozen water bottle under the arch. Stretch first then roll out the arch for 10 minutes; you don?t want to stretch the tendon when it?s ice cold. Freeze a golf ball and massage the fascia. Roll the frozen golf ball under the foot, starting from the front and working your way back. Put good pressure on each spot-the medial, center and lateral positions-for 15 seconds before moving to the next area. Then, roll the ball back and forth over the entire foot. Foam roll all muscles on the body above the plantar. Even tight shoulders can cause the condition, as your arm swing can throw off proper hip alignment and footstrike. Bump your arch. Get a commercial insole with an arch bump to push on the plantar and keep it from flexing-it doesn?t matter if you?re an under or overpronator; the plantar needs to be supported and strengthened, Wear the support in all shoes, if possible.

Foot Arch Pain

Surgical Treatment

As with most surgeries, patients and physicians should consider the surgery only after other, less invasive treatments have proven unproductive. Indications for surgery include Pain. Inability to function. Failure to improve after a six-month course of specific, directed physical therapy. Failure to improve after using arch supports, orthotics, or ankle and foot bracing. Once patients are at that point, the good news is that the procedure has considerably better outcomes than more traditional flat foot surgery. In the past, surgeons would realign and fuse the three hind joints, which would cause patients to lose motion, leaving them with a significantly stiff hind foot, With these newer procedures, if the foot is still flexible, surgeons can realign it and usually restore a close-to-normal or functional range of motion in the joints.

Prevention

Early in the treatment of arch pain, consideration needs to be given to the cause and strategies put in place to prevent it happening again. Advice should be sought on the adequacy of footwear. Stretching exercises should be continued long after the symptoms are gone. Foot orthoses should be used if structural imbalances are present. Activity levels and types of activities (occupational and sporting) need to be considered and modified accordingly.

Stretching Exercises

Massage therapy is a great way to loosen muscles and help improve mobility in in your feet. As many people with foot pain have discovered, tight muscles in your legs or back can lead to tense foot muscles. All those muscles are connected, so tension in your back can cause tension in your legs which can pull the tendons in your feet and cause stiffness and pain. Getting acupuncture or a professional full body massage are probably the best ways to deal with this, but there are also some simple tricks you can do at home to help keep muscles limber. These are great for loosening up and improving circulation, both before and after exercise. Place a tennis ball under the arch of your bare foot and roll it around, stretching the muscles in your foot and promoting blood flow. You can also roll the ball under your calves and upper legs to work out stiffness and knots. If you feel the tennis ball is too easy, try a lacrosse ball for deeper massaging. This is also demonstrated in the exercise video above. Use a foam roller, those big overpriced rolls of foam that are now available in every department and sporting goods store are fantastic for self-massage (why a roll of foam costs $30 is beyond us, but they do work wonders-our advice is to not waste money on the more expensive fancy grooved ones because even the simplest rollers work great). The exercises you can do with foam rollers seem to be endless, and there are literally hundreds of free videos online showing how to use them to massage every part of your body. Here's one we picked out that specifically targets foot and leg muscles related to arches and plantar fasciitis.

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