Foot pain is problematic for millions of people every day, from dull, throbbing aches to sharp, stinging sensations.
For some people, foot pain only occurs at night or when they’re asleep. This can interrupt sleep and make high-quality sleep difficult.
Affected by foot pain at night? Read on to find out some common causes and how best to treat each condition. In many cases, a few home remedies can ease foot pain at night, but you may need to see a doctor.
The tissue that runs from the front of your foot, through the arch and into the heel, is called the plantar fascia. When it’s stressed or stretched, it can cause foot pain and inflammation in a condition called plantar fasciitis.
Common causes of plantar fasciitis include:
- flat feet
- high arches
- tight calf muscles
- standing long hours on your feet without proper support
Plantar fasciitis pain is usually worse in the morning.
Morton’s neuroma is a painful condition caused by pinching or inflammation around the nerves in your toes. This pinching can lead to sensations like burning and shooting pain.
Pain with this condition isn’t necessarily worse at nighttime. But the pain can persist throughout the day, especially when you walk or put pressure on your feet.
People with Morton’s neuroma frequently have:
- flat feet
- high arches
- hammer toe
During pregnancy, a person’s body processes calcium differently. This change in calcium levels can lead to leg and foot cramps and tenderness.
Why are leg and foot cramps common during pregnancy?
There are many reasons that women may have leg and foot cramps during pregnancy. One reason can be changes in calcium levels. Learn more.
High levels of blood sugar can damage the central nervous system over time. This includes the nerves in your feet.
As the damage worsens, symptoms including foot pain and tingling can become worse.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain and stiffness. This includes pain in the feet and other areas that may frequently experience pressure and overuse.
At night, low levels of the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol may make pain worse.
Compression of some nerves in your ankle can cause tarsal tunnel syndrome. Compression of the sciatic nerve in your back and legs can cause foot pain, too.
In both cases, the pressure on these nerves tends to be worse at night, which leads to increased pain.
Many episodes of foot pain can be traced back to things like how you walk, how you sit, and the shoes you wear.
Lifestyle factors that might contribute to foot pain include:
- sitting for long periods of time
- standing, walking, or running for long periods of time
- improper shoe support
- sleeping in certain positions
Some people experience more foot pain at night because of the structure of their feet.
People with high arches and those with flat feet are more impacted by conditions that can lead to foot pain.
Foot pain is uncomfortable in almost any form. But the type of foot pain you’re experiencing, or where the pain seems to be located, can tell you a lot about what’s causing it.
Pain in heel
Some foot pain at night occurs in the bottom of your heel. This may make standing or walking on the foot more painful. You may also experience stinging, shooting pain when you get out of bed.
Pain in the heel may be the result of poor shoe supports or overworked muscles in the feet. In these cases, the foot may be throbbing and tender.
In the case of a pinched nerve, the heel pain may be sharp and stinging, and it may come and go.
Big toe pain
The bones and joint of the big toe take a pounding on any given day as a result of walking, standing, running, and other activities that put weight on your feet.
This can lead to painful inflammation and swelling in and around the toe.
Bunions are bony bumps that develop at the joint of your big toe. These are often visible on the side of your feet.
These growths can be uncomfortable when you’re walking or wearing shoes. At night, they can cause throbbing pain and soreness.
Pain in other toes
Your middle toes are prone to burning and tingling, as the nerves that lead to them are impacted by stress and pressure.
Sometimes, toes might also feel numb if the nerves are pinched.
Pain when lying down
Nocturnal leg cramps are muscle cramps that occur while you’re asleep or lying down. You may feel them in your calves and thighs.
Nighttime foot cramps are related. They cause a painful shooting achiness in your feet. The pain can also travel up the foot into the ankle and lower leg.
Peripheral neuropathy causes tingling and burning that results from damage to nerves in your extremities, like your feet.
People with this nerve damage may also experience stabbing, shooting pain. Numbness is also a common symptom.
Foot pain may not require treatment from a health care professional. At-home remedies may be all that’s needed to ease foot pain.
Drinking water throughout your day can help you stay hydrated and avoid muscle cramps.
Water also helps to move fluids throughout the body so you cut down on the risk of swelling.
Simple stretches like toe and heel lifts can help stretch the muscles and tendons in and around your feet. Try this one:
- Place your feet on the ground.
- Point your toes up and flex them back toward your body.
- Hold for 10 seconds.
- Put them back down.
- Raise your heels off the ground, leaving the balls of your feet on the ground.
- Hold for 10 seconds.
- Do three sets, and repeat several times per day.
Repetitive movements like walking, jogging, or running can cause foot pain, but sitting still all day can cause foot pain, too.
Improve circulation and stretch the muscles in your feet and legs by engaging in moderate exercise several times per week.
For sharp, stinging pain, consider placing an ice pack on your feet. Make sure you wrap the ice pack in a cloth so the ice is not directly on your skin.
Leave the ice pack for 10 minutes, and repeat every hour throughout the evening.
A gentle massage on your feet may help improve circulation and ease the tension in muscles and tissue.
Talk with a doctor
If you begin to experience foot pain regularly or develop worsening symptoms, make an appointment with a health care practitioner.
Symptoms like severe pain, numbness, and difficulty walking are potential signs of a more complicated issue.
If home remedies for nighttime foot pain aren’t stopping the throbbing or stinging, talk with your doctor about other remedies.
- Plantar fasciitis: Shoe inserts or orthopedic pads can help support the tissue in your feet. A specialist will measure your feet and factor in how you stand and walk to produce an insert that’s custom to your needs.
- Morton’s neuroma: Your doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medicine or steroid injection to reduce inflammation. You may need to help prevent pinched nerves by wearing shoes that don’t crunch your toes together.
- Pregnancy: You may need blood tests to see if your calcium levels are elevated or low. A supplement may be required if you need more calcium or other minerals.
- Diabetes: Proper management of blood sugar can help reduce foot pain.
- Fibromyalgia: There are no cures for this condition, but some medications can help reduce foot pain and swelling.
- Pinched nerves: Pinched nerves are often temporary. Several at-home treatments can help ease the pain and discomfort caused by this. Sometimes, however, physical therapy is required.
Here are some steps you can take to ease foot pain at night or even prevent it:
- Wear proper shoes: Shoes that are too small or narrow at the toes, as well as high heels, can cause foot strain and stress that lead to pain.
- Do stretches: Keep up the habit of heel and toe raises to make the muscles and tissues in your feet limber and pliable.
- Massage your feet: If your feet are sore from a long day of standing or exercising, massage them gently to stretch the muscles and increase circulation.
Treatment and prevention can go a long way toward making sure you get the sleep you need by reducing or getting rid of foot pain at night.
Caring for your feet with properly fitted shoes, regular stretches, and overall healthy habits can go a long way toward preventing nighttime foot pain.
See a doctor for conditions like pinched nerves and inflammation to help prevent worse damage.