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What Causes Foot Pain in the Morning?

Foot Pain, Heel Pain, Orthotics, Plantar Fascia, Plantar Fasciitis

Do you experience foot pain in the morning – particularly when you first put your foot on the floor? Foot pain is no laughing matter especially when it becomes a daily problem. What causes the frustrating problem of morning foot pain and what can you do about it?

What Causes Foot Pain in the Morning?

Morning foot pain is frequently seen with a condition known as plantar fasciitis. This common cause of chronic foot pain occurs when the plantar fascia, a band of tissue that runs from the heel to the toes, becomes inflamed. The first symptom is usually gradual onset of foot pain – particularly in the heel. Many people find that the foot pain in the morning gets better after walking around, only to return later in the day after prolonged standing. Putting pressure directly on the heel seems to make the symptoms worse.

Foot Pain in the Morning: What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is associated with overuse of the feet which leads to microscopic tears in the band of tissue known as the plantar fascia. This sets up an inflammatory reaction that leads to chronic pain which can be prolonged in some people – sometimes lasting many months. Plantar fasciitis is more commonly seen in people who run or stand for prolonged periods of time. It’s also common in obese people and people roll their feet inward when walking – a condition known as excessive pronation.

What Other Conditions Cause Foot Pain in the Morning?

Foot pain in the morning, particularly in the heel, can also be caused by a stress fracture, a bruised heel, or a condition called tarsal tunnel syndrome where the large nerve in the foot becomes entrapped causing the foot to feel tender, numb, or tingly. Sometimes heel pain comes from an inflamed Achilles tendon. Because of the possibility of a stress fracture, it’s important to see a doctor for any significant heel pain particularly if you’re a runner.

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What Can You Do About Foot Pain in the Morning?

If the foot pain is caused by plantar fasciitis, it may respond to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, daily application of ice to the heel, and use of orthotics to better support the heel and arch. Although calf stretching exercises are often recommended, there’s little evidence that they actually help. Injection of corticosteroids into the heel may give some temporary relief, but can lead to complications such as rupture of the plantar fascia. A newer treatment called extracorporeal shock wave therapy that uses sound waves has been approved for treatment of plantar fasciitis, but is usually reserved for resistant cases.

The Bottom Line?

If you’re experiencing foot pain in the morning, see your doctor to rule out a stress fracture, particularly if you’ve recently increased the intensity of your exercise routine. If you’ve been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, try conservative treatments such as orthotics and ice before considering measures such as corticosteroid injections which are sometimes associated with complications. Non-steroidal inflammatory medications can relieve pain and reduce inflammation, but also increase the risk of stomach irritation and bleeding from the digestive tract. As an alternative, try using tart cherries, tumeric, and fish oils to reduce inflammation and pain. These natural foods have all been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may be a safer alternative to traditional anti-inflammatory medications.


Merck Manual. 18th Edition.