Common Causes of Foot Arch Pain and Treatments

Medically Reviewed By Adam Hotchkiss, DPM
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Factors that contribute to pain in the arch of the foot include overuse injury, strong exercise, and wearing shoes that are too tight. The arch of the foot stretches between the heel and the ball of the foot. If it becomes painful, walking and standing may become difficult. Most cases of pain in the arch of the foot occur in athletes, especially runners.

This article explains pain in the arch of the foot, its causes, and treatment.

What can cause pain in the arch of the foot?

a person is rubbing their foot with their shoes off
ZHPH Production/Stocksy United

The arch of the foot performs several important functions. 

Among other things, it helps you to:

  • absorb shock
  • bear weight
  • retain balance
  • stabilize movement

Structural components in muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons enable the arch to perform these functions.

However, if any of these components get injured, you may experience pain in the arch of the foot.

Other common causes of pain in the arch of the foot can include:

  • overuse
  • physical stress
  • strong exercise 
  • shoes that are too tight
  • Morton’s neuroma, which is the thickening of tissue in your toe
  • neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy 

A range of foot conditions can also cause pain in the arch of the foot. These include:

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, the tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. It can result from overuse and strong exercise.

Common symptoms include dull or sharp pain in the heel and arch.

The pain typically gets worse when you wake up in the morning. It usually also flares up when you have just finished performing a prolonged physical activity.


Stretches may help relieve the pain. Also, try to wear support shoes or inserts to help ease pressure on the arch.

Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction

Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD) is inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon. The posterior tibial tendon links the inner foot to a muscle in the calf. 

PTTD pain can affect the inner ankle and the back of the calf. It can also make standing and walking painful. 


Try wearing an ankle brace or a special shoe insert. If symptoms persist, consider getting physical therapy.


Overpronation refers to the way your foot moves while you walk. 

If you overpronate, it means the outer edge of your heel touches the ground first as you walk and your foot rolls too deeply inward. 

This type of movement is unnatural and can cause damage to the tendons, muscles, and ligaments. It can also cause hammertoes and calluses.


Consider getting stability shoes and prescription arch supports. You may also find exercises and stretches helpful.

Cavus foot

Cavus foot is when the foot has an exaggerated arch. Causes include stroke, cerebral palsy, and genetics.

People with cavus foot typically experience pain when walking or standing. They may also experience hammertoes, claw toes, or calluses.


Consider using support shoes or shoe inserts. Consult your doctor if symptoms persist.

Flat foot

Flat foot is when your foot has no arch or your arch is very low. It is asymptomatic in some cases and painful in others.

You can get flat foot from a variety of factors, including injury, a high body mass index (BMI), and rheumatoid arthritis.


Stretching and using special shoe inserts may provide improvement.

Plantar wart

Plantar wart or verruca is when thickened skin forms on the bottom of the foot. It can leave black dots or white lesions on the foot.

You can get plantar wart from a virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV) virus. HPV is common in moist, warm places, such as swimming pools.


Applying salicylic acid to your foot may burn off the wart. Alternatively, you can go in for laser therapy, which uses a special type of light to cut off blood flow to the wart.

Learn 10 common causes of foot pain.

At-home treatment for pain in the arch of the foot

You may be able to treat pain in the arch of the foot with home remedies, such as:

  • Resting: Keeping away from rigorous physical activity may allow your foot to recover faster.
  • Applying ice: Applying cold compresses to the arch may reduce swelling and ease the pain.
  • Pain relievers: Using over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, such as acetaminophen, may also help reduce the pain.
  • Avoiding walking barefoot: Walking barefoot may worsen the pain. Be sure to wear supportive footwear at all times.


Self release stretches may also provide relief from symptoms.

To perform the stretch:

  1. Rest your ankle on your thigh.
  2. Hold your toes with one hand and press in and down on the heel with the second hand.
  3. Slowly push the toes toward the heel and hold.

You may also wish to perform a calf stretch. To perform this stretch:

  1. Remove your shoes and sit in a chair.
  2. Place a lacrosse ball or a roller ball under the arch of your foot.
  3. Slowly roll the ball with your foot, from the ball to the heel.


  1. Stand and face a wall.
  2. Place your hands on the wall.
  3. Move your right foot back.
  4. Gently bend your right knee forward.
  5. Straighten your right knee and keep your right heel on the floor.
  6. Stay in this position for 10 seconds. 
  7. Repeat the exercise three times and switch legs. 

Learn 10 reasons to see a podiatrist.

Medical treatment for pain in the arch of the foot

If your symptoms persist after trying out home remedies, you may require medical treatment.

Your doctor will examine your arch and recommend treatments, such as:

In rare cases, a doctor may perform a surgical operation. This may involve repositioning the soft tissue and removing bones from certain areas of the foot. 

When to contact a doctor for pain in the arch of the foot

Pain in the arch of the foot often gets better in a few weeks.

If it does not, however, you may require medical treatment. 

Make an appointment with your doctor if your symptoms persist or are severe.

Learn more about when to contact a doctor for foot pain.

Preventing pain in the arch of the foot

A range of factors can predispose a person to pain in the arch of the foot. They include:

  • being overweight 
  • being an athlete 
  • aging 

Maintaining a moderate weight and doing fewer rigorous physical activities may reduce your risk of the condition.

In addition, try to reduce the time you spend standing to prevent overuse injury.

Complications of pain in the arch of the foot

Pain in the arch of the foot may lead to serious complications if you do not treat it.

These complications can include flattening of the arch and damage to your back, knees, or ankles. 

What impact can the arch of the foot have on other joints?

Some cases of pain in the arch of the foot can have a serious impact on the joints. They can cause severe pain in the joints and deformity in the foot.

Be sure to seek prompt treatment to avoid these complications.


Pain in the arch of the foot can cause discomfort in the back, hips, knees, and ankles. It can also make walking and standing difficult.

Common causes include injury, overuse, plantar fasciitis, and plantar warts.

You may be able to treat pain in the arch of the foot at home. Helpful home remedies can include resting, applying ice, and stretching.

To reduce your risk of pain in the arch of the foot, maintain a moderate weight and limit your physical activities.

Seek medical treatment if you have persistent symptoms.

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Medical Reviewer: Adam Hotchkiss, DPM
Last Review Date: 2022 Jul 26
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