Causes Of Arch Pain & Heel Pain

Pain in the arch and heel of the foot are extremely common symptoms. There are numerous possible causes as you will see. If you have persistent pain in the arch or heel of your foot you should definitely get it checked out by a professional who knows how to diagnose these type of issues. 

The most common forms of arch pain and heel pain are caused by a combination of lifestyle – genetics – environment.  These factors all have the potential to visit the same kind of damage to the heel and the arch … repetetive strain !!! Repetitive strain in the heel &  arch of your foot can lead to pain via inflammation, microscopic damage to collagen fibres and scar tissue development. This is a fancy way to point out that if you have arch pain or heel pain you have probably for one reason or another strained the soft tissues in your arch over time. 

Lifestyle Causes Of Arch & Heel Pain 

Lifestyle factors contributing to arch pain include the following –

  • Daily activity levelsToo much or too little activity can influence arch pain and heel pain due to ‘overuse’ or due to muscle weakness in the leg. In a vicious cycle weight gain can also worsen arch pain & heel pain, arch & heel pain can however also worsen weight gain.
  • Amount and type of exercise taken –  Having strong leg and foot muscles is essential for the prevention of arch pain and heel pain. Most of us who live modern sedentary lives need to deliberately maintain our muscles in good working order, especially those with stubborn pain complaints. 
  • Footwear preferences – If you live in an urban environment it’s essential that you have sufficient protection from concrete, paving and tarmac. Footwear choices that lack sufficient  support, space for the toes and shock absorption can all contribute to arch pain & heel pain. 
  • Walking and running style – Walking and running with a fair amount of biomechanical efficiency is essential for the maintenance of a healthy arch and heel. If you have an unusual way of moving and bearing weight it can put unnatural stresses on the foot and eventually cause pain. 
  • History of injuries – Old injuries to almost any part of the leg and foot can contribute to the development of arch pain & heel pain. The scar tissue and muscle weakness left by many old injuries when they aren’t fully rehabilitated can be a major factor in stubborn pain complaints like arch pain & heel pain. 
 Genetic Causes Of Arch & Heel Pain

 Genetic factors contributing to arch pain include the following –

  • Arch height – Having particularly high arches can lead to chronic strain and pain in the arches if they are not properly supported over time. Having flat feet is like having poor shock absorption and can lead to pain and  scar tissue build up in the heel.  
  • Leg length – Having one leg longer than the other can put excess strain, usually on the longer side. The longer leg will tend to take more weight and do more work which may lead to repetetive strain and pain in the arch & heel. Only a small percentage of leg length discrepancies are ‘true discrepancies’ however and most are caused by a tilt of the pelvis. 
  • Foot length & width – The length and width of your feet are major factors determining where you bear strain through the heel and arch. People with very narrow and very wide feet may be somewhat more prone to arch pain and heel pain. 
  • Hip width – Having wider hips makes for extremely altered foot and leg mechanics when compared to narrower hips. There is a reason we have yet to see a successful Olympic distance runner with wide hips. Having wider hips is less mechanically efficient which may be why without exception all the people who are hardest to treat with arch pain, heel pain, knee pain and hip pain have wide hips. 
  • Cartilage fibre strength – Some of us while still consuming sugar are born with the type of teeth that mean we live our whole lives without needing a filling, others are getting their first fillings before their 10th birthday. The same is true of the bodies cartilage, some of us are just born with a more robust constitution in our cartilage cells. If you don’t have the strongest cartilage fibres it may increase you likelyhood of arch pain and heel pain. 
 Environmental Causes Of Arch & Heel Pain

Environmental factors contributing to arch pain include the following –

  • Surfaces in workplace – If you walk around on paddocks all day the likelyhood of you developing gradual strain injuries in you foot is minimal. If you stand on bear concrete all day in your work the chances of you developing arch pain or heel pain are infinitely higher. Surfaces like concrete are so hard that they are virtually toxic to the soft tissues of your feet. 
  • Surfaces in home – The same truth applies for the home as does the work place. If you walk around on bare concrete which has no carpet it could easily be a significant contributing factor in the genesis of your arch pain or heel pain. 
  • Surfaces upon which you exercise – There are many different surface upon which we may find ourselves doing exercise. There are many choices to be made around running surfaces, playing surfaces, exercise machines, where in our gym we choose to do certain things etc. etc. The rule of thumb for those of us who want to be kind to our feet is the softer the better. 
Heel Spurs Causing Arch & Heel Pain 

Heel spurs occur when extra bone builds up on the underside of the heel bone in response to mechanical stress, a heel spur is somewhat like a callus. Heel spurs are a reaction to strain in the soft tissues and bones of the foot. Heel spurs are especially common in athletes whose activities include large amounts of running and jumping. Essentially heel spurs are much like arch pain and heel pain themselves, there are reaction to repeat strain on the tissues of the foot. 

The good news about heel spurs is that the presence of a heel spur does not necessarily mean you will have pain. There are countless symptom free heel spurs found in people of all ages and many of those which are symptomatic respond just as well to treatment as patients with heel pain that doesn’t involve a spur.  

Less Common Causes of Arch Pain & Heel Pain

Osteochondrosis, inflammatory forms of arthritis, certain bone cancers, bone fractures  and even infections can be causes of heel pain in rare instances. The small but real possibility of there being some more sinister cause of your pain is part of the reason it is always wise to seek professional advice on your heel pain and arch pain if it is not going away. 

Conclusion 

Finding out the cause of your heel pain and arch pain is an essential first step that it the effort it takes to get answers. Once you know what you are looking at in terms of cause you can then start the process of treatment. Our feet connect us to the freedom of  a normal, healthy active life so there are most definitely worth the effort.