Do you wake at night with pain in your leg or foot? This is actually a common problem. The cause could be peripheral neuropathy, plantar fasciitis, or something else. Here are some common reasons why you might be experiencing nighttime foot pain and what you can do about them:

1. Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a nerve disorder that can cause pain and numbness in the feet and hands. While the condition can strike just about anyone, people with diabetes are at the highest risk. People with peripheral neuropathy usually experience numbness in the middle toe and the ball of the foot. When you wake up, the pain subsides. But when you lie down, it returns.

It can be difficult to determine an exact cause of peripheral neuropathy. Some sort of of disruption to a nerve fiber in the ankle or foot (known as an axon) may contribute to the condition.

Surgeons sometimes release trapped nerves in severe cases of peripheral neuropathy.1 However, there are some home remedies that might be effective if your condition is minor. For example, you can try limiting your intake of alcohol and getting more vitamin B12 in your diet. Regular exercise may also reduce the chances you’ll have peripheral neuropathy in your lower leg.

2. Morton’s Neuroma

This is another lower leg problem that tends to lead to foot pain at night. Morton’s neuroma occurs when the tissues surrounding the nerves in the toes become too thick. Bones in the third and fourth toes compress a nerve because they have become pinched.

These nerves then get inflamed and also get larger, leading to a tingling, burning feeling. Numbness and cramps are other symptoms.

One of the things that exacerbates the problem is ill-fitting shoes. The good news is that changing your footwear could provide relief. Make sure that you buy shoes with enough room to wiggle your toes, and avoid high heels, if at all possible. Custom orthotics may help relieve pressure in some cases.

In more severe cases of Morton’s neuroma, a surgical procedure known as a neurectomy may be needed. This involves removing part of the nerve tissue. This procedure is successful about 75-85 percent of the time.2

nighttime foot pain | Footmedix

3. Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome is incredibly frustrating. It makes you want to move each leg constantly when you’re in bed. It might also lead to involuntary jerking motions, as well as tingling and aches. Not only does it interfere with your sleep, it may also disrupt your partner’s slumber.

Researchers are still investigating exactly what causes restless leg syndrome. They believe that a lack of dopamine is a contributing factor. Dopamine is a chemical that helps the brain communicate with nerve cells. Restless leg syndrome more often affects women and older adults, although anyone can suffer from the condition.3

There are a few things people with restless leg syndrome can do to reduce their discomfort. Quitting smoking or decreasing alcohol intake can help. Massaging each leg regularly may also prove helpful. There are some indications that using medications to increase the body’s supply of dopamine could be effective as well. However, these medications can cause serious side effects. Talk to your doctor about all your options, including medications.

Who’s at Risk for Nighttime Foot Pain?

There are a few factors that will put you at an increased risk of foot discomfort at night. For instance, you might have recently suffered an injury, such as an ankle sprain. Even if you feel good before you go to bed, the injury might flare up while you’re sleeping (or trying to sleep). People with plantar fasciitis may experience foot pain at night, as well as the heel pain they feel during the day. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs from the heel bone to the toes.

Older adults tend to be at a higher risk for foot issues. This is because the foot tends to become wider and flatter with age.4 Also, the padding on the bottom of the foot will usually wear down as the years go by. Women who wear high heel shoes are also at more of a risk.

Wrapping it Up

As you can see, there are many different potential causes of nighttime foot pain. But there are also several things you can do to ease this pain. If you’re suffering from this problem, and nothing you do brings relief, talk to your doctor. Don’t let nighttime foot pain steal your sleep.

For more foot health tips, keep reading here:

5 Signs You’re Wearing Shoes Too Small

3 Flat Feet Exercises (that really help strengthen arches!)

Sources:
1.http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peripheral-neuropathy/diagnosis-treatment/treatment/txc-20205118
2.https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/mortons-neuroma
3.http://www.medicinenet.com/restless_leg_syndrome/article.htm
4.http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/foot-pain

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About the Author

Dr. David Watts

Dr. David Watts is a world-famous plastic surgeon working at Johns Hopkins Medical School. He also spent 16 years in the Army Reserve, reaching the rank of Major, and is blessed to have helped thousands of our nation’s soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.