Our foot bears the entire weight of the body when we do any work while standing, walking around, running etc. Activities like long distance running, dancing, and working in factory puts a long duration of stress on the foot. While sleeping or relaxation, the muscles of the feet tighten. When these people start moving again in the morning, their feet starts feeling heavy and there could be some pain. Foot pain in the morning happens since the tissues need some time to stretch and be in action again. Let us see the other causes of foot pain in the morning and how to deal with it.
Why Does the Foot Pain in the Morning?
The following are some of the main causes of morning foot pain –
- Plantar Fasciitis: It is the most common complaint. Plantar fascia is the ligament present at the bottom of the heel. It connects the bottom of the heels to the front portion. This gives support to the foot’s arches and allows one to walk. It acts like a shock absorber. Overuse or overexertion of plantar fascia makes it tight and inflamed and is called as plantar fasciitis. This inflammation causes foot and heel pain and stiffness.
- Arthritis as a Cause for Foot Pain in the Morning: The cartilage present between the surfaces of the bones of the feet gets damaged due to overexertion. This leads to inflammation and is called as Arthritis. Arthritis can cause foot pain in the morning.
- Tendinitis: This type of pain happens as a result of inflammation due to degeneration of the tendons in the feet and can cause foot pain in the morning.
- Stress Fracture: Stress fracture happens when one of the metatarsal bones of the foot breaks partially due to overuse giving rise to immense pain in the foot.
- Peripheral Neuropathy: This is a result of damage or injury to peripheral nerves and often causes pain and numbness in the hands and feet. Foot pain in the morning can also be linked to peripheral neuropathy. Some of the causes of peripheral neuropathy includes diabetes, alcoholism, infections, medications, pressure on the nerves etc.
- Heel Spurs or Bone Spurs: It is a bony outgrowth or an osteophyte formed on the heel bone (calcaneus) and is known to cause foot pain in the morning, especially in the heels.
- Pedal Edema: Excess fluid in the tissues of ankle and foot is called as pedal edema and this this can cause foot pain in the morning.
Moreover, any kind of injuries to the foot can lead to foot pain, particularly more in the morning as the muscles are usually tight and any kind of usage aggravates the pain.
Risk Factors for Foot Pain in the Morning
The risk factors for foot pain in the morning include:
- Risk Factors for Plantar Fasciitis and Tendinitis:
- Overweight or obesity often exerts pressure on the fascia ligaments. A sudden weight gain during pregnancy can be one of the causes of foot pain in the morning.
- People with high arches or flat feet often develop plantar fasciitis.
- Shoes with very soft and thin soles.
- Tight Achilles tendons.
- Overexertion as in the case of long distance runners.
- Women who are in menopause.
- Risk Factors for Arthritis:
- Increase in age.
Associated Symptoms with Foot Pain in the Morning
In case of Plantar fasciitis symptoms include pain on the bottom of the foot and heel that is worse in the morning. There is pain at the bottom of the foot along with stiffness. The foot pain can be dull or sharp with burning sensation. It develops slowly over time. The foot pain usually occurs at the bottom of the heel or at the mid-bottom of the foot. It can take place in either foot or both feet. Pain gets worse in the morning and is not felt much during the day’s activities. One also experiences pain while climbing the stairs or on standing for a long time. Arthritis and tendinitis is associated with pain and joint stiffness.
Complications for Foot Pain in the Morning
- If left untreated, the foot pain may aggravate and can cause further injury to legs, knees, hips and back.
- Also in untreated cases, the body starts depositing calcium at the heel bone that may lead to the development of Calcaneal Spur. Over a period of time the entire body may develop pain.
Diagnosis for Foot Pain in the Morning
The doctor will record medical history and will perform physical examination of the foot and ascertain where the pain is felt in the foot region. Further, if it exists in one foot or both the feet is also noted. The doctor will also examine the strength of the muscles and nerves by checking reflexes, muscle tone, coordination and balance. In order to be sure, an X-ray or MRI scan may be essential to detect if there is a bone fracture.
Additional tests such as blood tests, bone scans, vascular testing is done to evaluate the blood flow to the leg and feet. In some cases, neurological testing is performed to check if the problem is due to nerve entrapment.
Treatment for Foot Pain in the Morning
There is no specific treatment for foot pain which occurs in the morning. Some of the conservative treatments for morning foot pain include:
- Drugs which are anti-inflammatory and pain relievers.
- During long standing hours, it is necessary to take intermittent rest.
- One should apply ice on the heel or take a pain reliever. Even, alternate hot and cold packs can be applied.
- Perform physical exercises such as toe stretches, calf stretches several times in a day. Such warm up exercises done while getting up from the bed helps to reduce the foot pain in the morning.
- One should wear the right type or scientifically designed footwear, which can absorb shock and support the foot in order to prevent foot pain.
- If the above treatments do not work to get rid of foot pain in the morning, then doctor suggests wearing of splints along with a steroid injection.
- Some companies have come up with special products to combat these medical conditions:
- Spenco total support sandals.
- Biofreeze topical pain relieving gel.
- Women who have undergone menopause should take Vitamin D and B12 to avoid deficiencies and keep the bones strong.
It is a combination of treatment that works better for providing relief from foot pain in the morning.
Generally, surgery is not suggested in 95% of the cases. However, it may be required in following cases:
- Plantar Fascia Release. It involves cutting part of the plantar fascia ligament, which releases the tension on the ligament and treats inflammation.
- Other procedures include heel spur surgery or stretching or loosening specific foot nerves.
Prevention of Foot Pain in the Morning
- One should not stand and work continuously for long hours.
- Avoid running on hard surfaces.
- Avoid wearing wrong type of orthotics or footwear.
- On getting out of the bed one should avoid being barefoot as this will worsen the pain.
The foot pain in the morning is caused due to plantar fasciitis, tendinitis and arthritis. It is necessary that these medical conditions be treated with the combination of the strategies suggested. Depending on the severity of the conditions, it will take some time to get relief. In very rare cases, when none of these conservative treatments are helpful, then surgery may be required to relieve the foot pain experienced in the morning.
- American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. (2021). Plantar Fasciitis https://www.foothealthfacts.org/conditions/plantar-fasciitis
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Tendinitis https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tendinitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20378243
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