In a perfect world, you would awake each morning feeling refreshed and ready to begin your day. However, heel pain can make this difficult.
Heel pain in the morning can refer to stiffness or pain while you’re awake but lying in bed or to pain that occurs as soon as you take your first steps. Often, the pain disappears with an hour or two or diminishes to something that is best described as a dull ache.
There are several potential causes of heel pain in the morning, with the most common being plantar fasciitis. Seeing a podiatrist can help you obtain a correct diagnosis and find a treatment plan that works for you.
Plantar Fasciitis and Morning Heel Pain
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick ligament on the bottom of your foot, becomes irritated. The main symptom of this condition is a stabbing pain that occurs when you get out of bed but decreases with physical activity. This pain is the result of the plantar fascia being stretched after temporarily shortening overnight.
Plantar fasciitis is a common injury for runners and other athletes, but can also be caused by aging, obesity, or walking barefoot on hard surfaces for an extended period of time. Flat feet or high arches may further increase a person’s risk of developing this condition, as can conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or hypothyroidism.
Although plantar fasciitis is very common, this does not mean the problem should be ignored. If left untreated, plantar fasciitis can cause a person to alter the way they walk. This can lead to back, hip, and knee problems that require additional care and further limit mobility.
Stress Fractures and Morning Heel Pain
A stress fracture is a tiny crack in the bone that is the result of repetitive trauma. Stress fractures are most often found in athletes, with those who suffer from bunions, tendonitis, and low or high arches being most at risk. Osteoporosis or other conditions that affect bone density can also play a role.
Morning heel pain from a stress fracture will likely last all day. However, the pain may be less intense with certain types of activities. When heel pain is caused by a stress fracture, the pain is often most intense in one spot that is also painful to the touch.
Achilles Tendonitis and Morning Heel Pain
The Achilles tendon is the band of tissues that connects your calf muscle to the heel bone. When this tendon becomes inflamed, you may experience stiffness and pain in your heel area. This is most often the result of repetitive stress due to excessive exercise or physical activity, suddenly increasing the intensity of your exercise without a proper warm-up, or wearing high heels for a prolonged period. People with naturally flat feet face an increased risk of this condition.
As with a stress fracture, Achilles tendonitis can cause pain or discomfort throughout the day. However, the symptoms of heel pain caused by Achilles tendonitis are typically worse in the morning because circulation to the feet is limited when the body is at rest. You may also have trouble standing on one toe and moving the foot up and down.
Contact Our Omaha Podiatrists to Put a Stop to Your Heel Pain
Home remedies such as ice, rest, and nonprescription painkillers (NSAIDs) can effectively address many cases of mild heel pain. However, your heel pain may require more extensive treatment if:
- Pain is interfering with your ability to complete daily activities.
- You are having difficulty walking normally.
- The heel pain started after a fall or injury.
- You have additional symptoms such as a fever, swelling, numbness, or tingling.
If you are experiencing morning heel pain, our Omaha podiatrists can help you obtain a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that best fits your needs. In many cases, heel pain can be addressed with conservative treatments such as custom orthotics and supportive footwear. Complete our contact form or call our office at 402-333-8856 to schedule an appointment.