Aching arches is one of the most common complaints of people who have foot pain. Arch pain can affect your gait, how you stand, and even what kind of shoes you find comfortable. If you constantly struggle with aching arches, finding out the cause can help you learn what you can do to manage or even eradicate the pain. 

The arch of your foot is not made from a single muscle, bone, ligament, or tendon. The arch that connects the heel and ball of your foot is actually composed of several small components. When any of these components are inflamed or injured, pain results. Not all arch pain has the same source. Finding the source is the first step to discovering the cure. 

Flat Footedness

Normally, the foot has a sustained curve through the mid-foot. When you have flat feet (or fallen arches), this curve is compromised. The rounded shape of your arch is usually supported by tendons that attach to bones in the ball and heel of your foot. Fallen arches occur when these tendons are not tight enough to support the normal shape of the arch. 

Sometimes, people are born with naturally flat feet; their arches just do not develop properly. Other times, you can develop flat feet from injury to the tendons in your heels, especially the posterior tibial tendon that extends down from your lower leg through the ankle and into the heel. Arthritis and nerve damage can also contribute to progressively flatter feet.

Not only will you experience tired, aching arches after standing on flat feet, but you will find it difficult to stand on your tiptoes. You can also experience swelling around the arch. 

podiatrist can help you diagnose and treat flat feet, but an easy test is to walk on a concrete surface with wet feet. A normal footprint will show a band connecting the heel and ball of the foot. But flat feet will leave no distinction between the two areas, making a wedge-shaped print. 

Common treatments include:

  • Special inserts for your shoes to provide more support
  • Stretching and other physical therapy exercises
  • Steroids to reduce inflammation
  • Refraining from participation in high-impact sports and exercise that will further the stress on your tendons

In severe cases, your podiatrist may recommend surgery to tighten your tendons, graft in new bone, or fuse some bones together to make your feet more resilient. 

Over Pronation

Another common cause of arch pain in excessive pronation. A foot pronates when it strikes the ground to help absorb the shock of impact, disbursing the kinetic energy as your foot rolls forward onto the forefoot to prepare for lift off after striking.

With overpronation, the foot strikes the ground normally on the outer edge of the heel, but then the foot rolls too far inward, placing undue stress on the interior arch. During activities like running where you strike the ground frequently with great force, excessive pronation will result in arch pain. 

The best way to solve problems caused by excessive pronation is to have your feet examined by a doctor. Overpronation has many causes, and getting to the root of the cause is important. If you try to compensate for overpronation with off-the-shelf shoe inserts or other helps, you might not actually solve the real problem. 

For example, sometimes overpronation is cause by a lack of flexibility in the ankle. If your ankle does not bend backward easily enough, your foot will be forced to pronate more in order make up the difference and allow your knee to move through a normal gait. Only addressing the reduced flexibility in the heel will correct the pronation problem.

Plantar Fasciitis 

Plantar fasciitis is by far the most common type of arch and heel pain. It occurs when the fascia, which is a band of tissue that runs through the arch to connect to your toes, becomes inflamed.

Plantar fasciitis can develop slowly, with only mild heel pain in the morning or when you stand up after sitting for a while. But as the inflammation increases, the pain can become very bad, lasting for several hours. Plantar fasciitis is most likely to afflict those who:

  • Participate in sports. Those who engage in high-impact exercise but do not spend enough stretching the feet and lower legs are likely to develop plantar fasciitis.
  • Are overweight or pregnant. Extra weight places great stress on the feet.
  • Wear high heels. Heels place your feet in a continual state of stress, leading to quick inflammation. The higher the heel, the greater the risk. 
  • Stand all day. Teachers, nurses, and construction workers, especially those who don't wear supportive footwear, have increased chances of developing this condition. 

Fortunately, this condition is one of the simplest to treat. Stretching, rest, and simple physical therapy exercises can help you manage the pain. For extreme cases, splints, shock therapy, or surgery may be required.

For more information on why your arches are hurting, contact us at Advanced Foot & Ankle Centers of Illinois.

Bunions are bony outgrowths that form at the base of the big toe. Patients with bunions are genetically predisposed to have them, and bunions may be exasperated by poor shoe gear. Once formed, bunions don't go away without surgery, but most patients can manage their bunions and the associated pain without resorting to surgery. In fact, bunion treatment usually follows a three-stage process. Some patients stay in stage one of this process forever, while others may eventually move on to stage two or three.

Stage One: At-Home Management

If you have bunions that only cause you pain from time to time, they can generally be managed with these simple, at-home treatments. Even those with more severe bunion pain should start off by trying these treatments before resorting to more aggressive measures.

At this stage, your goal is to minimize bunion pain to the point that it no longer interferes with your lifestyle. These treatments can also help prevent bunions from worsening without causing any worrying side effects.

Stage-One Treatment Options

For many patients, wearing heels or shoes with too narrow a toe box may contribute to bunion formation. Purchase shoes with a wider toe box and with low heels to prevent bunions from worsening. Wider shoes also help alleviate pain since they don't press so firmly on the bunion.

Purchase moleskin pads at the drugstore and stick them to your bunions in the morning before putting on your shoes. The pads prevent the shoes from rubbing on the bunion and causing blisters.

Soak your feet in a warm bath at the end of the day to increase circulation and ease bunion pain. Adding some Epsom salts to the water may help.

Keep your weight within the healthy range for your height to decrease the amount of pressure on your feet. Less pressure means less bunion pain.

Stage 2: In-Office, Non-Surgical Treatments

If your bunion pain is still interfering with your daily life even though you've been using the treatments recommended in stage one, then these more aggressive, yet non-surgical treatments may help.

These treatments are intended to ease bunion pain to the point that you can walk comfortably and enjoy other activities normally. They will not make your bunions to go away, but the treatments may keep them from getting worse. They may also prevent more serious complications like bursitis (swelling of the tendons in your foot) and metatarsalgia (inflammation in the ball of your foot.)

Stage-Two Treatment Options

Your podiatrist may design a custom orthotic device or splint for you to wear on your foot. Depending on your needs, this device may sit inside your shoe, or you may put it onto your foot before pulling your shoe on. It is meant to prevent your foot's bone structure from changing any further.

Cortisone is a steroid that helps prevent inflammation. Before recommending surgery, your podiatrist may inject cortisone into the base of your big toe. This should reduce inflammation in the area, helping ease your pain and make walking more comfortable.

Stage 3: Surgical Correction

If you have tried all of the stage two treatments and are still struggling to live a normal, pain-free life because of your bunions, your podiatrist may recommend surgery. Indications that you need surgery include the following:

  • Your big toe has begun to cross over your other toes.
  • Your big toe is chronically inflamed. The inflammation does not subside with rest or other treatments.
  • You experience pain and difficulty walking regardless of footwear style.

Some patients require surgery very soon after their bunions initially develop, while others manage their bunions effectively for many years before surgery is required.

Surgery will permanently remove your bunion and restore proper alignment in the bones that form your foot and big toe. Once you're recovered, you should be able to walk comfortably and live without bunion pain. Surgery may also prevent complications like arthritis.

Stage-Three Surgical Treatments

Your surgeon will devise the best surgical approach based on your unique foot anatomy and the severity of your bunions. One or more of these approaches may be used:

  • In an osteotomy, the bones in your big toe are cut and realigned before being fixed in place with pins or screws. Sometimes a segment of bone must be removed to straighten the toe.
  • In an exostectomy, the bump is removed from the bone that forms your big toe. This procedure is usually combined with an osteotomy.
  • In resection arthroplasty, the damaged tissue in your big toe joint is removed, creating an empty space between the bones. This space becomes a flexible "joint."

Bunion surgery, like all surgical procedures, carries small risks like infection, nerve damage and ongoing stiffness in your big toe. This is why most podiatrists do not recommend surgery unless the stage one and stage two treatments discussed above fail to provide relief from bunion pain.

If you are suffering from bunions, don't hesitate to see a podiatrist. They can work with you as you progress through these treatment stages.

If you're new to running, you're just starting to get a taste of how wonderful a good run can feel. But you're getting a taste of the other side of running as well, as you start to feel pain in your feet and ankles. If you don't address the problem, the pain could get worse. 

Choosing the right running shoes is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent running injuries. Here are some tried-and-true tips for finding the right pair for you.

1. Look for Quality over Price

Some people spend hundreds of dollars on running shoes. They assume that the more you spend, the better shoes you'll get. However, that's not always the case. Just because a shoe is expensive doesn't mean it's the right choice for you.

In one study, researchers experimented with running shoes from a price range of $80 to $150. Their findings showed that low- and mid-cost shoes had a similar or greater quality to higher-cost shoes of the same brand.

2. Consider Your Foot Shape

There are three main types of foot shape, and each may do better with a different type of shoes.

  • Low arch or flat foot. If you don't have a significantly defined arch at the bottom of your feet, you might run with an inward rolling motion. To prevent this, choose a stable running shoe with minimal cushioning.
  • Neutral. If you have an average arch, you'll be okay with most kinds of moderately stable running shoes.
  • High Arch. People with high arches often land on the outside edge of the feet. If your arch is high, choose a shoe with more cushioning to protect your feet.

Keep in mind that too much support can cause cramping in the arch of your foot.

3. Look at Your Gait

Taking a look at how you run will help you on your quest for the perfect running shoe. A podiatrist or shoe salesperson may want to watch you walk or run and see how your foot strikes the ground. They can choose a shoe with the right cushioning and features to complement your gait.

As you walk or run with a pair of shoes, make sure walking or running feels natural. Your shoes should support your natural stride rather than trying to change it.

4. Keep Body Frame in Mind

Running can put the stress of three to five times your body weight on your feet. Thus, your weight and height can affect the kind of shoes you buy. A larger person may prefer more cushioning, while smaller people might prefer less cushioning.

5. Get the Right Size

For running, you typically need about a half size larger than your normal shoe size. Keep in mind that the same shoe size in different brands doesn't have the exact same fit, so try on the shoe before you buy.

It's best to buy shoes in the evening because your feet are more swollen at the end of the day. If you buy shoes in the morning, they may feel too small in the evening.

6. Get the Right Fit

Giving your toes enough wiggle room is important because your feet swell after a run. Your feet will be best served if you can move your toes comfortably up and down.

However, don't give yourself too much room, since that can cause your heel to slip. Make sure you can slide your heel out of the shoe when your shoes aren't tied. The top of your shoe should feel snug, but not tight.

Make sure the shoe is also wide enough for your foot's comfort. At the widest part of your foot, you should still be able to pinch a quarter-inch of material with your fingers.

7. Check the Shoe's Flexibility

A flexible shoe allows your foot to bend properly and prevents you from developing arch pain or plantar fasciitis. Before putting on the shoe, hold the shoe by the heel and put the shoe’s tip on the floor. Make sure the shoe bends in the same line that your foot would when you flex it.

8. Consider Orthotics

If running still puts significant stress on your feet, orthotics can help. Perhaps you turn your foot too much or not enough when your foot strikes the ground. Orthotics adjust the angle of your foot so you strike the ground at the ideal position. They can help conditions like plantar fasciitis and shin splints.

A podiatrist can measure your foot and order a pair of custom orthotics that are just right for you.

9. Purchase Two Pairs

Running in the same shoes at the same pace days in a row can lead to injuries like blisters. Consider buying a second pair of shoes so you can switch between the two pairs.

Follow these tips to prevent running injuries like sprained ankles and shin splints. If you experience injuries or pain while you run, see a podiatrist.

Whether you walk, hike, run, or dance, your feet can take a lot of abuse. But when you're particularly active, you can easily injure or otherwise damage your feet, especially if you have ill-fitting socks and shoes.

With enough friction, a blister can form on your toes or the sole of your foot. In some cases, a simple blister can turn into a blood blister. But while you may be used to the sight of a common blister, you may be unsure of what to do with a blood blister.

To help you better care for your blood blister, we'll address several dos and don'ts for treating this minor injury. We'll also talk about what a blood blister is and what causes it.

What Is a Blood Blister?

A blood blister is essentially a blister where the blood vessels beneath the blister have been damaged. As a result, the blood leaks into the blister. Most often, blood blisters form in bony areas, but they can develop in softer areas as well.

What Causes a Blood Blister?

Blood blisters can form in areas under excess pressure and friction. For instance, if you go running for an extended period of time and the bony parts of your feet constantly rub against the inside of your shoes, you might develop a blood blister on your toes or the side of your foot.

You can also get a blood blister when your skin has been severely pinched. The pressure can easily damage the blood vessels without actually breaking the skin.

How Do You Treat a Blood Blister?

Blood blisters can be painful, and you may feel tempted to lance the blister as soon as possible. But there are wrong and right ways to treat your blood blister. For a full, quick recovery, you want to take the proper steps.

Below, we'll discuss some of the most common dos and don'ts for treating your blood blister.

DO Elevate and Ice Your Blister

Once you get a blood blister, elevate the injury to reduce swelling and minimize its size. If your blood blister hurts, especially if it was a result of pinching, use an ice bag wrapped in a towel or a cold compress. Icing the blister can numb the pain a little.

DON'T Lance Your Blood Blister

With blood blisters, refrain from popping them, and instead let it dry and flatten on its own. If the skin over the blister is broken, you could get an infection or a scar. The only time you should consider lancing a blood blister is if it's excessively large, and even then, you need to use the right tools and procedures to keep the wound clean.

DO Bandage Your Blister

If you're concerned your blister will pop on its own, bandage it properly to protect it from friction and pressure. For small blisters, use adhesive bandages, but if the blister is a bit larger and protrudes from the skin, you may want to use moleskin bandages.

If the moleskin bandages aren't already precut for blisters, cut a hole in the bandage and place the hole right over the blister. This bandage provides a little padding around the blister to prevent it from hitting anything or rubbing on the inside of your shoe. Once you place the moleskin bandage, put an adhesive bandage over it to seal away the blister and further protect it from friction.

DON'T Peel Away Skin Over the Blister

No matter what you do, blisters can still pop or the skin may simply become loose as the blister heals. Don't remove any of this skin, even if the blister is already broken. Peeling away this skin can further expose the wound to infection, so keep it in place if you can.

DO Clean a Broken Blister

Should your blood blister break accidentally, be sure you thoroughly clean your wound with antiseptics, then apply antibacterial cream or lotion before bandaging the blister up. Taking the time to clean your wound can prevent complications down the road.

DON'T Wear Bad Shoes

As you get ready in the morning, you may eye your favorite pair of pumps or dress shoes. But these shoes may be part of the problem. If you have a blood blister, try wearing breathable shoes with a little wiggle room for your toes.

Flip flops can be a great option, but if you can't wear open-toed shoes at work, wear a pair of comfortable, fitted sneakers. When you wear socks, be sure your socks are also fitted.

Too much or too little moisture can also cause blood blisters. If your feet are particularly moist after a run, be sure to use moisture-wicking socks or foot powder. Should you not have enough moisture, try rubbing your feet with Vaseline or moisturizing skin cream before a run.

DO Seek Help When You Need It

Blisters can be painful, but if you notice more pain than usual or redness and warmth around the blister, find professional help. You may have an infection, and you'll want to get that treated right away. Even if you don't have an infection, seek medical help if you notice anything off about your blood blister or the blister is particularly large and painful.

At The Advanced Foot & Ankle Centers of Illinois, we can help you care for any blood blisters on your feet, and if you get blood blisters often, we can find the root of the problem and help you make the right changes to keep your feet in great shape.

There are a lot of great ways to get in shape these days, and one convenient way is running. You can run around your neighborhood, in a park, on a treadmill, or on an indoor track. Running also has a number of different benefits, including mood improvement and decreased blood pressure.

But when you have flat feet, running can sometimes be difficult. You might feel aches and pains throughout your body, and some of these painful conditions can even make running harder to endure.

But why do flat feet cause issues, and how can you remedy these problems? In this blog, we'll address what flat feet are, how they trouble runners, and what you can do to remedy related issues.

What Are Flat Feet?

The term "flat-footed" essentially refers to the condition of a person's arch. Arches help absorb the shock of your footfalls, and with running, the heavier footfalls put more strain on the body. Proper arches can adequately absorb this shock as you run.

But with flat feet, the arches are collapsed, sitting low or completely flat against the ground. A foot doctor can determine if you have flat feet, but you can also check your arches yourself at home with the wet test. First, dip the sole of one of your feet in water, then step on a piece of paper towel. Put all your weight on that foot, then remove it from the paper towel.

If you have flat feet, the inward line of your foot won't curve in very much because your arches collapse with each step. Out of the general population, about 20 to 30 percent have flat feet, so it's not entirely uncommon, and there are plenty of successful runners with flat feet.

There are also two different types of flat-footedness. Some people have flat feet because of their bone structure, and this type of flat foot is called a rigid flat foot. Rigid flat feet look flat at all times, even when they're lifted off the floor.

The more common form of flat foot is called a flexible flat foot, which is when the foot appears to have an arch off the floor, but once the foot is flat against the floor, the arches collapse, giving the foot that flat appearance.

Why Are Flat Feet a Problem for Runners?

Flat feet often cause overpronation, which is when the ankle bends inward as the foot hits the ground. Not every flat-footed person suffers from overpronation, but it can cause foot, hip, knee, back, and ankle pain, especially after running.

Overpronation prevents the feet from absorbing the shock of each footfall, and this lack of shock absorption is what causes pain and stress to the body. If you overpronate with flat feet, you might experience shin splints, lower back pain, or knee tendonitis, especially if you run too much too fast.

So, honestly, the cause of these issues is overpronation, not flat-footedness. But flat footed individuals are more likely to overpronate than everyone else.

How Can You Prevent Injuries While Running With Flat Feet?

The best way to prevent running injuries from flat-footed overpronation is to get the right shoes. You need a pair that offers adequate arch support, and you don't want shoes with too much cushioning. The best shoes for overpronation are stability and motion control running shoes.

To keep your foot from overpronating, stability and motion control running shoes have firm midsoles to prevent your arch from collapsing too much. In addition to good supportive shoes, custom molded orthotics can also help as they decrease the range of motion in flat footed individuals while decreasing risk of injuries. 

And once you have the right shoes on your feet, you'll also have to take a few precautions during your run. If you're just starting to run or haven't gone running in a long time, you may want to take it slow. Don't run too far too fast. Steadily lengthen your runs and gradually increase your speed, even if you feel great at the time and want to run more. This steady increase in distance and speed can help prevent injury and pain.

You often won't feel the aches and pains from your run until the following morning, after the stress of the run has time to settle in. However, your body will be able to adapt to running over time, allowing you more freedom as you run.

Also, run on somewhat softer surfaces to minimize the shock of each footfall. For instance, if you often run around your neighborhood, run on the road instead of the sidewalk. Asphalt is softer than concrete, so running on it reduces the risk of injury and shin splints. And if you can, stay away from uneven surfaces. They can worsen your overpronation, resulting in injury and pain.

You should also visit a podiatrist for advice and shoe recommendations and discuss custom molded orthotics. At Advanced Foot & Ankle Centers of Illinois, we take foot care seriously, and we take pride in offering our customers the best and most relevant advice and treatment.

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