The heel is the most important part of the foot, which, in addition to performing supporting and shock-absorbing functions, serves as the main peripheral section of the lower limb, because many blood vessels, nerve fibers, tendons pass through it. The heel, which includes a soft fat layer, relieves the pressure that occurs during walking or running, thereby protecting the spine from injury. The heel bone is the largest bone in the foot and, at the same time, fragile, very prone to injury and disease.
Situations when the heel hurts in the morning after sleep, while it hurts to step on it and you have to move on tiptoe, are not uncommon. The pain can be of a different nature – it can be stabbing, sharp, dull, throbbing. In addition, such a phenomenon can be observed when the heel hurts immediately after a long sitting and sleeping, and later, when the person “diverges”, the pain subsides. These features, as well as the possible presence of additional symptoms (for example, swelling, redness, growths on the heel, etc.), are taken into account when determining the causes of pain and making a diagnosis.
Why do heels hurt in the morning after sleep?
The main diseases that provoke the symptom in question are two pathologies:
- plantar (plantar) fasciitis;
- heel spur.
At plantar fasciitis the inflammatory-degenerative process affects the fascia – a ligament that is located directly under the skin and connects the calcaneus to the metatarsal bones. The occurrence of pathology is associated with excessive loads, leading to damage to the fascia, the appearance of micro-ruptures in it. Most often, plantar fasciitis is observed in people whose work is associated with prolonged standing or walking, in overweight people, in athletes. The main manifestation of the disease is just pain in the heel in the morning, immediately after waking up, when the first steps are taken, or after a long rest of the legs. And then the pain can gradually subside.
Heel spur – the outcome of chronic plantar fasciitis, in which calcium salts accumulate in the area of inflammation, forming a marginal bone outgrowth. By squeezing the surrounding tissues, the heel growth causes a sharp pain, which is also most intense in the morning after sleep, after a long rest. The likelihood of developing this pathology increases with flat feet, problems with the spine, overweight, and circulatory disorders in the lower extremities.
Less common causes of heel pain in the morning are:
- inflammation or damage to the Achilles (calcaneal) tendon, which provides mobility to the ankle joint;
- chronic inflammatory diseases of the joints (Bekhterev’s disease, psoriatic arthritis, gout, etc.);
- reactive arthritis caused by various infections (often venereal).
Treatment for heel pain in the morning
When an unpleasant symptom appears, you should not postpone a visit to the doctor and let the pathology take its course. It is recommended to contact a traumatologist, surgeon or rheumatologist, undergo the necessary examinations to determine the causative factors.
As a rule, for most pathologies that cause heel pain, treatment includes taking anti-inflammatory and pain medications, wearing specially selected orthopedic shoes and insoles, and temporarily refusing to exercise on the legs. To reduce painful sensations, you should do a little warm-up and foot massage before getting out of bed, and you can also try applying ice to the sore heel.