Why Does the Arch of Your Foot Hurt?

Have you ever felt pain in the arch of your foot but don't know why? Many people experience this issue. There are various factors that can cause foot arch pain among both adults and children. In this blog post, we'll explore the top reasons why the arch of your foot may hurt.

Understanding the Arch of the Foot

The arch of the foot plays a crucial role in providing support, balance, and stability. Understanding the arch and its structure can help shed light on why foot arch pain occurs.

The arch of the foot is made up of a complex system of bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. It acts as a shock absorber, distributing the weight of the body evenly across the foot. There are three main types of arches: normal arches, flat arches (also known as pes planus or flat feet), and high arches (also known as pes cavus). 

Each of these arch types can contribute to foot pain in different ways.

Common Causes of Foot Arch Pain in Children

Children are not immune to foot arch pain, and there are several common causes that can contribute to this discomfort. One of the most prevalent causes in children is flat feet. Flat feet occur when the arches do not develop properly or collapse under the weight of the body. This can lead to an uneven distribution of weight and strain on the muscles and ligaments in the feet, resulting in foot arch pain. Children with flat feet may also experience other symptoms, such as leg and back pain.

Another common cause of foot arch pain in children is participating in activities that involve a lot of running or jumping. These high-impact activities can put excessive stress on the arches and result in painful feet. It is important for parents and guardians to ensure that their children have the proper footwear and take regular breaks during these activities to minimize the risk of foot arch pain.

Additionally, certain medical conditions can contribute to foot arch pain in children. For example, conditions like tendinitis or pinched nerves in the foot can cause discomfort in the arch area. It is important to be aware of any changes in your child's foot health and seek medical attention if necessary. Seeking appropriate treatment can help alleviate discomfort and prevent future issues. 

Common Causes of Foot Arch Pain in Adults

As adults, we often take our feet for granted. We rely on them to carry us through our busy lives, and it's not until foot arch pain strikes that we realize just how essential they are. There are several common causes of foot arch pain in adults that we should be aware of.

One of the primary causes of foot arch pain in adults is plantar fasciitis. This condition occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, becomes inflamed. This inflammation can result in a painful arch, especially when walking or standing for long periods. 

Additionally, high arches can also put excessive pressure on the ball and heel of the foot, leading to foot pain.

Other possible causes of foot arch pain in adults include tendinitis, pinched nerves, and certain medical conditions, such as arthritis or diabetes. These conditions can cause discomfort in the arch area and can be quite debilitating if left untreated.


In the area near the arch of the foot, there are several tendons that attach to bones. One of these tendons can become strained and cause discomfort with each step taken. Individuals with flat arches (commonly referred to as "flat feet") are more susceptible to straining this particular tendon. The pain can be felt in the arch or bottom of the foot, the inside of the ankle, or on the top of the foot.

Pinched Nerve

Similar to Carpal Tunnel in the hand, Tarsal Tunnel is a condition where a nerve in the foot gets pinched, causing pain in the arch. The nerve is compressed just below the ankle, but the pain can radiate to the arch. Symptoms of a pinched nerve include sharpness, aching, cramping, or pins and needles. Pain from a pinched nerve can be disruptive even when sitting or lying down, unlike pain caused by a tendon, ligament, or bone.

It's essential to pay attention to any signs of foot arch pain and seek appropriate treatment. Ignoring the pain can lead to further complications and a decrease in overall foot health. Treatment options for foot arch pain in adults may include rest, physical therapy, custom orthotic inserts, or even surgery in severe cases.

Symptoms of Foot Arch Pain to Watch Out For

Symptoms of foot arch pain can vary depending on the underlying cause and the individual. It's important to be aware of these symptoms so that you can identify when you or your loved ones may be experiencing foot arch pain. Here are some common symptoms to watch out for:

  1. Pain in the arch: 
    This is the most obvious symptom of foot arch pain. The pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation. It may be constant or occur only when weight is placed on the foot.
  2. Swelling and inflammation: 
    Inflammation is a common response to injury or irritation. If you notice swelling or redness in the arch area, it may be a sign of foot arch pain.
  3. Difficulty walking or standing: 
    Foot arch pain can make it difficult to walk or stand for extended periods. You may find yourself limping or favoring one foot over the other to alleviate the discomfort.
  4. Changes in gait: 
    The way you walk can be affected by foot arch pain. You may notice changes in your gait, such as rolling your foot inward or outward, to avoid putting pressure on the painful area.
  5. Increased foot fatigue:
    If you find that your feet tire easily or feel exhausted after minimal activity, it could be a sign of foot arch pain. The strain on the arches can make it harder for your feet to support your body weight.
  6. Limited range of motion: 
    Foot arch pain can also lead to a limited range of motion in the foot. You may have difficulty flexing or extending your foot fully.

If you or your loved ones are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to consult your local Roanoke podiatrist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Ignoring foot arch pain can lead to further complications and a decrease in overall foot health. 

The Importance of Supportive Shoes

When it comes to foot arch pain in adults, one of the most important factors to consider is the shoes you wear. Supportive shoes can make all the difference in providing relief and preventing further discomfort. Let's dive into why supportive shoes are so crucial.

First and foremost, supportive shoes help to alleviate pressure on the arches of the feet. They provide a stable base and proper alignment, which can reduce the strain on the arches and minimize foot pain. Shoes with a contoured arch support or built-in orthotics are especially beneficial for those with high arches or flat feet.

In addition, supportive shoes offer cushioning and shock absorption. They act as a buffer between your feet and the hard surfaces you walk on, absorbing the impact and reducing the stress on your arches. This can be particularly helpful for individuals who spend long hours on their feet or engage in high-impact activities.

Supportive shoes also promote proper foot alignment and posture. When your feet are properly supported, it can help maintain the natural curves of your spine and improve overall body alignment. This can alleviate not only foot pain but also pain in other areas such as the knees, hips, and lower back.

Treatment Options for Foot Arch Pain

Here are several effective treatments available that can help alleviate foot pain in adults.

Orthotic Inserts

One common treatment option for foot arch pain is the use of orthotic inserts. These are specially designed shoe inserts that provide support and stability to the arch of the foot. Orthotic inserts can help correct any structural issues in the foot and distribute weight more evenly, reducing strain on the arch. They can be particularly beneficial for individuals with high arches or flat feet.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is another effective treatment option for foot arch pain. A physical therapist can provide targeted exercises and stretches to help strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the feet. These exercises can improve flexibility, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain. Physical therapy may also include techniques such as ultrasound therapy or electrical stimulation to further aid in pain relief and promote healing.


In more severe cases of foot arch pain, surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgery may be recommended to correct structural issues in the foot or to relieve pressure on nerves or tendons causing the pain. It is important to consult with a podiatrist to determine if surgery is the right option for you.

Self-Care Measures

In addition to these treatment options, there are several self-care measures that can be taken to alleviate foot arch pain. Resting and elevating the feet, applying ice to reduce inflammation, and taking over-the-counter pain medications can provide temporary relief. It is also important to wear supportive shoes and avoid activities that exacerbate the pain.

How Shenandoah Podiatry Can Help

At Shenandoah Podiatry, we understand the debilitating effects that foot arch pain can have on your daily life. Our team of experienced podiatrists specializes in diagnosing and treating foot arch pain in both children and adults. 

When you come to Shenandoah Podiatry, we will start by conducting a thorough examination of your feet and ankles to determine the underlying cause of your foot arch pain. We may use diagnostic imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRIs, to get a clearer picture of what's going on. Once we have a diagnosis, we will work closely with you to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Our treatment options for foot arch pain include orthotic inserts, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgical intervention. Orthotic inserts are specially designed shoe inserts that provide support and stability to the arch of the foot, helping to alleviate pain and improve function. Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles and ligaments in the feet, reducing inflammation and promoting healing. And if conservative treatments are not providing sufficient relief, our skilled surgeons can perform the necessary procedures to correct any structural issues or relieve pressure on nerves or tendons.

Dr. Jennifer Keller
Roanoke, VA Foot and Ankle Podiatrist
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