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What the Arches Do

The arch (located in between the heel and the ball of the foot) helps to absorb stress, assists people with adapting to sloping or uneven surfaces, and stabilizes the body for walking, standing, and training. 

Why Do My Arches Hurt?

When an individual experiences pain in the arch, there are several reasons why this discomfort could be happening.

Plantar Fasciitis

Across the bottom of the foot lies a thick band of tissue. When this gets inflamed, plantar fasciitis can develop. The pain can start in the arch and go into the heel, and it tends to be the most severe right after sleeping or relaxing for a long time. This condition can occur due to too much stress and tension on this band of tissue, and actions such as repetitive tearing and stretching can contribute to inflammation and irritation.

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are small and not a complete break. These thin cracks can develop in any bone in the foot, and often cause pain and weakness in the arch (and elsewhere in the foot). This type of fracture usually results from repetitive force due to overuse of the feet. For example, stress fractures in the feet are relatively common in runners. Approximately 2% of the injuries that athletes experience are stress fractures. 

Ligament Sprains

There are multiple ligaments in the foot — some of which are in the arch or connected to anatomy in the arch of the foot. When a sprain occurs, this can cause tenderness, pain, swelling, and bruising. The most severe sprains may make it difficult to put weight on the foot. Sprains that affect the mid-foot are usually due to a collision, sports-related fall, or an isolated twist of this area of the foot. For example, it can occur in ballet dancers, snowboarders, and individuals involved in competitive diving.


This condition is characterized by a tendon becoming inflamed. Extensor tendonitis may cause pain in the arch of the foot. People may also experience stiffness, tenderness, and weakness in the affected area. Tight shoes and overuse are both common causes of this condition. Both factors can result in the tendons becoming inflamed. Another possible cause is running uphill or frequent running on an incline.

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Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction

Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction is a relatively common issue affecting the ankle and foot. This condition is characterized by the tendon — which attaches to the bones under the foot and extends to the calf muscle — becoming torn or inflamed. The tendon’s primary function is to hold up the arch, and when a fall or similar injury causes tearing or inflammation in the tendon, it can cause pain and sometimes make it hard to put weight on the affected foot. This condition is relatively common in people who play high-impact sports. 

Inflammatory Arthritis

About 90% of people who have rheumatoid arthritis develop problems with their feet, and it’s often the first place on the body where people start to have symptoms. It’s unknown what exactly causes this type of arthritis, but it may be a genetic condition. People who have it can experience pain, stiffness, and swelling. When arch pain occurs, it’s important to have it evaluated quickly. The sooner treatment begins, the sooner a person can work on alleviating their symptoms. Treatment may also help prevent the arch pain (and the issue causing it) from getting worse.


Overpronation describes the arch of the foot inward after it collapses. This might also be referred to as “flat feet”. This causes a problem with the natural alignment of the feet, putting a person at a higher risk for certain injuries such as plantar fasciitis, foot or lower leg stress fractures, shin splints, and chronic lower back pain. This issue is usually caused by a person’s feet being very flexible. In some cases, people are born with this condition.

Cavus Foot

Cavus foot refers to a condition in which a person’s arch is very high. This puts excess stress on the heel and ball of the foot when the individual is standing or walking. This issue may be seen in people with certain medical conditions such as spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, or a neurologic disorder. It may cause foot instability, pain, hammertoes, and calluses on several areas of the foot. In some cases, people who have this condition also develop a drop foot.

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Foot & Ankle Specialty Group for Arch Pain

If you’re suffering from arch pain, don’t wait for treatment any longer. Our team at Foot & Ankle Specialty Group is here to help you. We are a podiatry office happily serving families, individuals, athletes, and anyone who is active with their injuries and discomfort. Our practice founder, Dr. Salma Aziz, has built her reputation on time-tested practices, spending a lot of quality time with her patient and going over all their concerns in order to develop the best treatment plans. Now with Dr. Petrina Yokay and Dr. Jessica Arneson, our team is even stronger.

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