Common Causes of Foot Arch Pain and How to Prevent It

Foot arch pain will usually occur under the arch of the foot and is commonly caused by an inflammation of the soft tissues that are located in the middle of the foot. The plantar fascia, a tight band of tissue connecting the heel to the toes, forms the arch of the foot. It is a crucial part of the foot’s anatomy for proper foot mechanics and the safe transfer of weight from the heel to the largest toe. When this part of the foot becomes irritated or inflamed, it can become very painful to make even simple foot movements.

Common Symptoms Associated With Foot Arch Pain:

Every foot has two arches running along the length and width of the foot. Any pain that you experience in the arches of your feet will usually be a result of inflammation, damage, or injury to the tissue, bones, joints, and muscles located in these arches, including plantar fascia damage. Some common symptoms include tenderness and pain on the bottom of the feet which can be mild to severe depending on the root cause. Swelling, redness, bleeding, or difficulty walking and placing weight on the affected foot are some common symptoms of conditions that lead to foot arch pain.

What Causes Pain and Tenderness in the Foot Arch?

There are several different conditions that can lead to experiencing pain and discomfort in the arches of your feet. Some of the most common include:

Stress Fractures:

Stress fractures occur when the bones in the middle of the foot become damaged due to overuse. They typically occur as a result of repetitive action, which causes a small crack in the bone. The symptoms are often painful and tend to get worse with more weight placed on the foot or with increased activity. Stress fractures are often common in athletes or in people who work in jobs where they spend a lot of time on their feet such as nursing. Getting the right supportive footwear is essential for preventing this problem.

Plantar Fasciitis:

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of pain in the arches of the feet. This is a condition that occurs due to inflammation or irritation of the plantar fascia. Symptoms include pain in the arches of the feet that is often worse during the morning, after standing for a long period of time, or after walking for a long time.

Ligament Sprains:

Each foot contains 26 bones that are connected together by ligaments. Landing awkwardly or twisting your foot when exercising, running, jogging, or walking can lead to these ligaments becoming twisted and sprained. This can result in immediate pain and in some cases, swelling of the area.


Inflammation of the tendons that pass along the foot can lead to painful symptoms in the arches of the feet. The tibialis posterior and peroneal tendons are two main tendons along the arch of the foot that can lead to pain in this area when they become injured, irritated, or inflamed.

Foot Arch Pain in the Morning:

Plantar fasciitis or inflammation of the plantar fascia is typically the most common cause of foot arch pain and tenderness that is experienced first thing in the morning. This is because the plantar fascia contracts and becomes tighter during the night when you are sleeping and loosens up throughout the day while you are walking and moving around. In most cases, people with this condition will feel the pain at its worst on the arches and heels of their feet when they are waking up and getting out of bed in the morning, and the symptoms will usually get better after they have moved around for some time as the blood supply is increased to the plantar fascia. However, this is not the only cause of foot arch pain that is experienced mainly in the morning. If you have painful foot arches when getting out of bed, it could be due to one of these conditions:

Bone Spurs:

Bone spurs are commonly a condition that affects the heel. However, they can also lead to tenderness and pain in the foot arches depending on where they form. The condition is caused by bones growing abnormally. This results in them rubbing against and irritating other bones, tissues, and nerves in the area, which can lead to pain that’s often worse first thing in the morning.


Pain in the joints, including the feet, can be caused by rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition. Rheumatoid arthritis causes the body to fight against itself and attack the fluid in the joints and joint linings, which causes inflammation and painful symptoms. People with this condition often feel more tenderness and stiffness first thing in the morning. If arthritis is the reason behind your foot arch pain, your doctor will suggest a suitable treatment.

Flat Feet:

Flat feet or fallen arches can cause discomfort and pain in the arches of your feet. This condition is when you have very low or no arches of the feet. Some people are born with the condition while others develop it over time as a result of consistent pressure and strain on the arches, either from overuse or from other conditions such as obesity. Since there is no arch to support your foot, it completely touches the ground while standing, which can result in swelling and pain.

Ill-Fitting Footwear:

Aching foot arches in the morning can also be a result of wearing poorly-fitting or non-supportive footwear for too long. This is commonly experienced in people who work in a job where they spend a lot of time on their feet throughout the day and do not have the right footwear for the work. Whether you’re choosing shoes for work or something else, it’s always important to make sure that they fit your feet well and provide enough cushioning and support for the arches of your feet, especially if you have any other pre-existing foot conditions that might put more pressure on your arches.

How to Avoid Foot Arch Pain:

The good news is that most of the time, foot arch pain can be avoided. Unless it is the result of a pre-existing health condition such as arthritis, then you can do a lot to make sure that the arches of your feet are adequately supported and pain-free. One of the main ways to do this is by choosing the right shoes, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet throughout the day. You are likely to notice an immediate difference in the comfort levels and painful symptoms that you might have been experiencing in the arches of your feet when you switch to high-quality, supportive, and well-fitting shoes.

In addition to the right shoes, you can also get foot arch insoles that offer additional support to this area of your foot. These are commonly offered to people who have flat feet or are at a higher risk of developing flat feet due to the nature of their job or their current bodyweight. However, anybody can benefit from getting additional arch support for their feet.

Getting Relief From Foot Arch Pain:

If you are experiencing pain in the arches of your feet, the first step to take is to get checked by a medical professional who can diagnose any underlying conditions you may have that might be contributing to these symptoms. In most cases, foot arch pain is caused by factors that you are in control of, however, it’s always worth getting a professional opinion, especially if your pain does not go away when you switch to wearing more supportive and better-fitting shoes, or if you are already wearing supportive footwear.

For foot arch pain that is caused by an injury to the foot, the best thing to do is simply rest the foot for as long as you can. Try to avoid putting weight on the affected foot as much as possible in order to avoid reaggravating the injury and give it the best chance of healing quickly. If the area is swollen or red, you can apply an ice pack or gently massage the area to get some relief.

Soaking your feet can also be a quick and effective way to get some relief from painful arches, especially if they are the result of spending too long on your feet or wearing unsupportive and ill-fitting shoes. For the best results, soak your feet in warm water and Epsom salts to provide relief to the strained muscles and ligaments. You can do this in your bath or a foot spa.

Finally, over-the-counter pain relief products are usually a good option for getting quick relief from most foot pain. Be sure to always take the medication according to the instructions. NASIDs like ibuprofen will usually work well when you are experiencing swelling and inflammation. This can be taken as a tablet or in the form of a topical cream or gel applied directly to the affected area.

Painful foot arches can be disruptive to your everyday life. Supporting your feet with the right shoes and avoiding injury is the best way to prevent foot arch pain.

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