July 12, 2022

9 Things that Can Cause Foot Arch Pain — But It’s Not Plantar Fasciitis

Written by: Omnia Tantawi, MSc

Plantar Fasciitis is a condition that manifests in pain in the area around your heel and arch, this typically happens when the tissues supporting your foot becomes inflamed. Even though this is the most common reason for foot arch pain as well as being the most frequently diagnosed, there are plenty of other conditions that can cause these same symptoms.13

Below are some conditions that mimic the symptoms of plantar fasciitis but are not in fact that.

 

  1. Heel Bone Fracture

This condition is self-explanatory from its name, it’s when you experience a bone fracture in your heels that may not be so serious that you are unable to perform your daily activities but is serious enough to cause you pain and distress. These fractures usually present themselves through swelling and bruising, and they require immediate attention to avoid chronic symptoms.4

 

  1. Flat Feet

Having flat feet can also cause pain, swelling, and discomfort in the foot which may resemble symptoms of plantar fasciitis. Flat feet can develop from early childhood or because of injury. This is believed to be a direct result of the very low arch of the foot which allows for more foot exposure to the ground.5,6

 

  1. Cavus foot

Contrary to flat feet, having high arches in the foot —also known as the cavus feet— can cause foot arch pain as well as calluses and lacerations. This condition is genetic and if left untreated can lead to subsequent complications one of which is developing plantar fasciitis. Thus, it’s important to follow it with your doctor as soon as you feel any pain in your feet to avoid unwanted complications.7

 

  1. Overpronation

This condition is caused by incorrect walking when you land your heel first on the ground making the rest of your foot directed inward onto the arch. Evidently, according to a study conducted in 2017, it was revealed that overpronation leads to impairing blood supply to the heel which increases the risk of injury.8

 

  1. Stress fractures

This generally develops as a result of consistent overuse of the foot which can result in wear and tear of the bones of the foot and cause subsequent complications. These types of fractures can be mostly seen in athletes, runners, and people who work out excessively.9

The main difference between stress fractures and plantar fasciitis is that people with stress fractures need more rest to heal and will aggravate their condition if they comply with increased activity, unlike people with plantar fasciitis who get better with increased activity.

 

  1. Muscle strains

Muscle strains are when your muscles are torn or stretched out leading to pain and pressure which varies in the degree of severity depending on how you strained it. Muscles in the foot are usually strained due to fatigue, overuse, or misuse.10

 

  1. Tendonitis

This is a condition that’s characterized by inflammation of the tendons. Your tendons are tissue that looks like a rope and function in connecting your muscles to your bones. They help out with your movement and protect you from some injuries.

Tibialis posterior and the peroneal tendons are two of the most frequently inflamed tendons. When they are inflamed, they can cause symptoms that resemble plantar fasciitis. 11

 

  1. Tarsal tunnel syndrome

This is a neurological condition that occurs when a specific nerve in the foot is compressed, this nerve is called the ‘tibial nerve’. As a result, it brings about symptoms of pain, numbness, and cold and hot sensations in the foot.12

 

  1. Underlying medical conditions

Multiple underlying medical conditions can cause pain to the arch of the foot due to different reasons, below are some examples of these conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Cancers
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Neurological conditions

 

So, it’s crucial to seek the help of your doctor when you feel any pain as the key to a successful treatment relies on early detection and prevention. Since each one of these conditions will require a specific treatment strategy, we recommend that you share all your symptoms and concerns with your doctor so that they can accurately diagnose your condition and prescribe the optimal treatment plan that’s right for you.

Your doctor will probably diagnose you through the following parameters:

  • Obtaining your medical history
  • Performing a medical examination
  • Using imaging techniques
  • Prescribing other diagnostic tests (ex. Blood tests) if they suspect that you may have another underlying medical condition causing your symptoms

 

The Bottom Line

Experiencing pain and discomfort in the foot arch area can be caused by various conditions that mostly resemble each other in clinical manifestations which makes for a tricky diagnosis. But no matter what the reason behind this pain is, the important thing is to not leave it untreated and seek consultation from your doctor or podiatrist.

 

References

  1. Plantar Fasciitis - PubMed [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jun 23]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28613727/
  2. Plantar Fasciitis and Bone Spurs - OrthoInfo - AAOS [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jun 23]. Available from: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/plantar-fasciitis-and-bone-spurs
  3. Plantar fasciitis - NHS [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jun 23]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/plantar-fasciitis/
  4. Snoap T, Jaykel M, Williams C, Roberts J. Calcaneus Fractures: A Possible Musculoskeletal Emergency. J Emerg Med [Internet]. 2017 Jan 1 [cited 2022 Jun 24];52(1):28–33. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27658550/
  5. Lee MS, Vanore J v., Thomas JL, Catanzariti AR, Kogler G, Kravitz SR, et al. Diagnosis and treatment of adult flatfoot. J Foot Ankle Surg [Internet]. 2005 [cited 2022 Jun 24];44(2):78–113. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15768358/
  6. van Boerum DH, Sangeorzan BJ. Biomechanics and pathophysiology of flat foot. Foot Ankle Clin [Internet]. 2003 Sep [cited 2022 Jun 24];8(3):419–30. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14560896/
  7. Rosenbaum AJ, Lisella J, Patel N, Phillips N. The cavus foot. Med Clin North Am [Internet]. 2014 Mar [cited 2022 Jun 24];98(2):301–12. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24559876/
  8. Karzis K, Kalogeris M, Mandalidis D, Geladas N, Karteroliotis K, Athanasopoulos S. The effect of foot overpronation on Achilles tendon blood supply in healthy male subjects. Scand J Med Sci Sports [Internet]. 2017 Oct 1 [cited 2022 Jun 24];27(10):1114–21. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27671520/
  9. Kahanov L, Eberman LE, Games KE, Wasik M. Diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of stress fractures in the lower extremity in runners. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine [Internet]. 2015 Mar 27 [cited 2022 Jun 23];6:87–95. Available from: https://www.dovepress.com/diagnosis-treatment-and-rehabilitation-of-stress-fractures-in-the-lowe-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-OAJSM
  10. Järvinen TAH, Kääriäinen M, Järvinen M, Kalimo H. Muscle strain injuries. CurrOpinRheumatol [Internet]. 2000 [cited 2022 Jun 24];12(2):155–61. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10751019/
  11. Tendinopathies of the foot and ankle - PubMed [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jun 23]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19904895/
  12. Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome - PubMed [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jun 24]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30020645/

 

Article written by Omnia Tantawi, MSc
Omnia is an Assistant Lecturer and Medical Researcher from Egypt. She’s an integral part in many research projects that proved promising in revolutionizing the future of Medicine. As a Research Scholar, she’s particularly interested in Personalized & Molecular Medicine because she believes that this is the prospect of the healthcare industry and can be applied to all medical and pharmaceutical specializations. But at heart she remains a wordsmith, so she currently works as a Medical Writer. This transition was fairly easy with an Academic Medical background, ability to adapt to different audiences and passion for research and creation. She always takes the most complex or mundane topics and turn it into a must-read with an unparalleled style. In her free time, she likes to read books, tunes in Netflix or enjoys the outdoors.

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