Arch pain is commonly experienced by middle aged women who's feet have a tendency to overpronate or roll in. It is also commonly associated with bunions and hammer toe. The plantar plate is a thick ligament type structure with attachments which inserts into the base of our phalanges (toe bones) in the area of the ball of the foot. The plantar plate is designed to protect the head of the metatarsal from pressure and prevent over extension of our toes preventing our toes from spreading or splaying.
The arch of the foot is the concaved, mid-section of the sole. While it only spans an inch or two in most adults, this one small area of the foot bears nearly all of your weight when you walk, and helps to transfer this weight from heel to ball. Just beneath the skin on the sole of the foot, a tough, elastic ligament called the plantar fascia extends from your heel bone to the metatarsal area of the foot. This ligament is designed to bounce gently with the spring of your step, but a number of factors can cause it to become unhealthy. These include. An abnormal walking gait. Vigorous high-impact exercise such as running, playing tennis or basketball. Being overweight. Wearing shoes that slant or cramp any part of the foot. Wearing shoes that have worn down in the heel or sole. A traumatic injury to the foot, including cuts, bruises, strains and fractures. The presence of arthritis or other inflammatory conditions. The normal aging process. In the presence of any of the above factors, the plantar fascia ligament can begin to flex beyond its normal range of motion. Small tears may develop in the tissue and inflammation is commonly present. You may describe your arch pain as sore, sharp, tender, intermittent, constant, burning, tingling or aching. All of these adjectives may be signs that you are experiencing a condition called Plantar Fasciitis.
If you've ever seen your footprints in the sand and they looked more like bricks than feet, then you probably have flat feet. Simply stated, a flat foot is a foot that does not have an arch when standing. In the medical world, flat feet are associated with "pronated" feet. Pronated is merely the term used to describe the position of the foot when it is flexed upward (dorsiflexed), turned away from the body (abducted), and the heel is rolled outward (everted), all at the same time. A certain amount of pronation is required for normal walking, but too much pronation is often considered a foot's "worst enemy." Over time, excessive pronation can lead to many unpleasant problems including heel pain, bunions, hammertoes, shin splints, and even knee, hip, or back pain. In fact, one orthopedic surgeon discovered that 95% of his total knee replacement patients and 90% of his total hip replacement patients had flat feet. An easy way to tell if you pronate too much is to take a look at your athletic shoes-excessive wearing of the inside heel (arch side of the shoe) as compared to the outside is a classic indication of excessive pronation.
Diagnosis of a plantar plate tear can often be challenging due to the complex nature of the anatomy of the foot. Careful history taking and an examination of the area of pain is required to determine the extent and cause of the tear. If necessary, further investigations such as x-rays or diagnostic ultrasound may be ordered by your podiatrist to help evaluate the severity of the problem.
Non Surgical Treatment
The adult acquired flatfoot is best treated early. There is no recommended home treatment other than the general avoidance of prolonged weightbearing in non-supportive footwear until the patient can be seen in the office of the foot and ankle specialist. In Stage I, the inflammation and tendon injury will respond to rest, protected ambulation in a cast, as well as anti-inflammatory therapy. Follow-up treatment with custom-molded foot orthoses and properly designed athletic or orthopedic footwear are critical to maintain stability of the foot and ankle after initial symptoms have been calmed. Once the tendon has been stretched, the foot will become deformed and visibly rolled into a pronated position at the ankle. Non-surgical treatment has a significantly lower chance of success. Total immobilization in a cast or Camwalker may calm down symptoms and arrest progression of the deformity in a smaller percentage of patients. Usually, long-term use of a brace known as an ankle foot orthosis is required to stop progression of the deformity without surgery.
The procedure involves cutting and shifting the bone, and then performing a tendon transfer. First, the surgeon performs a calcaneal osteotomy, cutting the heel bone and shifting it into the correct position. Second, the surgeon transfers the tendon. Reroute the flexor digitorum to replace the troublesome posterior tibial tendon. Finally, the surgeon typically performs one or more fine-tuning procedures that address the patient?s specific foot deformity. Often, the surgeon will lengthen the Achilles tendon because it is common for the mispositioned foot to cause the Achilles to tighten. Occasionally, to increase the arch, the surgeon performs another osteotomy of one of the bones of the midfoot. Occasionally, to point the foot in a straightforward direction, the surgeon performs another osteotomy of the outside portion of the calcaneus.
There are several things that you can do to prevent and treat arch pain. This includes Avoiding high heeled shoes, Stretching the calf muscles regularly, Wearing well fitted, comfortable shoes, Using customisedorthotic devices or shoe inserts, Elevating the feet and applying ice and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. You can also care for your feet by paying attention to any changes in your feet as you get older. It is normal for feet to lose some of their fat pads as a person ages. Your feet may get bigger, both wider and longer as well. Make sure that you wear shoes that are sturdy, but comfortable, and have your feet measured before you buy shoes to make sure that you are still wearing the right size. Shoe sizes vary from one brand to the next, so it is a good idea to have your feet measured every time you purchase shoes. When choosing shoes, match the shoe to the activity for which it will be worn. Within the broader grouping of athletic shoes, there are different categories with different features. For example, a running shoe has different features than a walking shoe. You may develop some arthritic changes in your feet over time, too. If you notice that you are experiencing more pain in your feet, see your doctor for an evaluation. If the pain is arthritis-related, your doctor may recommend medication or other treatment to slow the progression of the arthritis.
Strength training and stretching can help avoid injury and keep your feet free from pain. Stretching should focus on the bottom of your foot to loosen tissues and tight ligaments surrounding your arch. The easiest way to do this is by grabbing a towel and sitting on the floor. You can do this while you catch up on the news in the morning, or when you get home from work. Put one leg out in front with your foot flexed up. Loop the towel around the ball of your foot and gently pull your toes towards you. Hold for thirty seconds and then repeat 3-4 times before switching feet.