Crawling into bed at the end of a long day is one of the best feelings. That is until foot pain keeps you tossing and turning all night.
“Foot pain at night is a common complaint for many people,” said Travis Jensen, DPM, a podiatrist with Banner Health. “In addition to pain, people may also experience burning, tingling, stabbing, numbness and cramps at night.”
Don’t let your aching feet interfere with your restful sleep.
Whether standing all day at a theme park or due to a medical condition, there can be many reasons why the pain in your feet won’t go away at night and why foot pain may be worse when resting.
To help narrow down the cause, Dr. Jensen shared some of the most common factors that cause painful feet at night and ways to treat them.
Lifestyle habits can fuel chronic pain in one or both of your feet.
- Wearing ill-fitting shoes. Narrow-toed shoes, high heels and shoes with poor foot support can cause sore feet, callouses, blisters, bunions and other foot-related conditions.
- Being overweight. Carrying extra weight puts extra pressure on your feet. It can strain joints and muscles, leading to chronic foot pain or injury.
- Simply doing too much. Repeatedly overworked feet can cause strain and damage to the tissues, leading to overuse issues like shin splints, heel pain and stress fractures.
- You are not giving your feet tender loving care. You brush your teeth and shower regularly, why not care for your feet? If you aren’t inspecting your feet daily, wearing shoes in public showers and cutting your nails properly, you could put your feet at risk for problems.
Peripheral vascular disease
Also known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), this condition narrows or blocks blood vessels in the legs, which causes reduced blood flow to both the legs and feet. When it becomes severe enough, it can be hard to walk, work or do other types of activities.
If you have heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, overweight or smoke, you may be at higher risk of having PAD.
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that involves damage to the nerves, which can cause pain, numbness and tingling in the feet. Neuropathy is often worse at night.
Diabetes, alcoholism, chemotherapy, radiation and poor nutrition can cause neuropathy.
Your body experiences many changes during pregnancy. It can cause swelling (edema) in your feet, poor circulation and overpronation. These changes can often cause your feet to ache and your legs to cramp during the night.
Plantar fasciitis is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot. Activities such as standing or walking for extended periods often aggravate it. It also can cause heel pain.
Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone caused by bacteria or fungi. It can cause painful swelling and lead to limb loss if not treated quickly.
If you have arthritis, you may experience foot pain at night. This is because gravity pulls on your joints when you lie down, which can irritate inflammation.
Metatarsalgia is a pain that occurs in the long bones of the feet, known as the metatarsal bones. It is often worse at night when pressure is placed on these bones. It can feel like a deep bony ache in the ball of your foot.
High intensity activity spent on the forefront of your foot, such as gymnastics, sprinting, and boxing, can contribute to the cause of this condition.
Fibromyalgia is a fairly common, chronic neurological disorder that causes pain and tenderness in different areas of the body, including the feet. It is associated with lower levels of the hormone cortisol, which helps regulate inflammation and may contribute to aching feet as a result.
[Also read “Fibromyalgia: 6 Natural and Alternative Treatments to Try.”]
Growing pains are a normal part of childhood and adolescence and can result in some foot pain at night. The cause is unclear, but it most likely may be due to muscle pain caused by overuse during the day.
How to treat your achy feet
There are several home remedies to help ease foot pain, but treatment is most effective when pain is evaluated by a health care specialist,” Dr. Jensen said. “They can identify the cause and tailor treatments for that condition.”
Depending on the cause of your foot pain at night, your health care provider may prescribe or recommend the following treatment methods:
- RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation)
- Anti-inflammatory medications and topical creams
- Gentle stretches and strengthening exercises
- Wearing a splint or compression socks
- Physical therapy
- Prescription medication
- Surgery to treat a condition or issue
Can I prevent nighttime foot pain?
Not all causes can be prevented, but there are some things you can do to lower your risk of painful feet at night.
- Wear proper footwear
- Regularly exercise and stretch your feet and ankles
- Start slowly, easing into exercise if you haven’t been active in a while
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Drink plenty of water
There are many reasons your feet may be causing you problems at night. Don’t let it disrupt your sleep.
Need help treating nocturnal foot pain?
Schedule an appointment with a primary care provider.
Schedule an appointment with a podiatrist.