Several things can cause a person’s feet to ache at night, including some lifestyle factors and certain medical conditions. However, a range of accessible treatments can help relieve the pain.

There may be a dull pain that does not go away or a throbbing pain in different parts of the feet, from the ball, heel, and toes to the arches or ankles.

Experiencing foot pain at night can interfere with sleep, and poor sleep can make the pain worse.

This article will discuss some factors that can cause aching feet at night. It will also examine which treatments are available.

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The following sections will look at some potential causes of aching feet at night.

Lifestyle factors

People with jobs that require them to be on their feet for prolonged periods of time may find that their feet ache at night.

This can be due to fatigue in the muscles in the feet. The muscle fibers contract and expand with use, and with overuse, they can become fatigued.

Muscle fatigue means that the muscles may ache more because there is less oxygen in the body and a buildup of waste products. This can cause cramps and spasms at night that can affect the feet.

Drinking plenty of water during the day may help stop cramps by helping the body get rid of excess waste products that contribute to aches and cramps.

Muscle cramps at night can also occur due to the following:

  • sitting for long periods of time during the day
  • sleeping in certain positions
  • wearing certain footwear

Regularly doing stretches and exercises can help ease aches in the feet due to these problems. To exercise the foot muscles, the National Health Service (NHS) recommend doing stretches in groups of five repetitions three times per day.


The way the body processes calcium changes during pregnancy, and this may cause the feet to cramp during the night.

People can ease foot cramps with gentle stretches, mild exercise, and flexing the foot during a cramp. Increasing the amount of calcium in the diet may also help.

Morton’s neuroma

Morton’s neuroma is a condition wherein the tissue around the nerves that lead to the toes becomes thickened. This happens if the bones in the toes become pinched and compress a nerve. This can cause pain that can be worse at night.

When a pinched nerve becomes inflamed, it can result in a burning or tingling sensation in the toes.

Wearing well-fitting shoes can help prevent Morton’s neuroma. Making sure that the shoes have enough room for the toes to be positioned naturally can prevent and reduce pain from Morton’s neuroma.

To ease discomfort, a person can try:

  • wearing soft-soled shoes
  • using shoe inserts or orthopedic pads
  • using massage to reduce pain
  • asking a doctor about steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain
  • avoiding high heels
  • avoiding tight shoes
  • avoiding shoes with narrow tips

Plantar fasciitis

People with plantar fasciitis experience pain in the bottom of their heel. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, around 2 million people receive treatment for plantar fasciitis every year.

Plantar fasciitis develops when the tissue called the plantar fascia, which supports the arch of the foot, becomes inflamed. It is located on the bottom of the foot, and it starts at the heel and connects to the front of the foot. This tissue absorbs strain from the feet.

If the plantar fascia becomes damaged from these strains, this causes inflammation and pain.

Having a high arch, obesity, flat feet, or tight calf muscles or engaging in repetitive activities such as running can cause plantar fasciitis to develop.

The symptoms of this condition include:

  • pain at the bottom of the foot, near the heel
  • pain in the foot after getting out of bed
  • pain after exercise

People with plantar fasciitis may experience aching feet at night after being on their feet all day.

Some treatment options include:

  • resting
  • icing the bottom of the foot
  • taking anti-inflammatory medications
  • stretching the calf
  • receiving steroid injections
  • wearing comfortable shoes
  • using night splints to stretch the plantar fascia overnight
  • trying physical therapy

Learn about some stretches for plantar fasciitis here.


Sciatica develops due to a compressed sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve runs from the base of the spine down the back of the legs and into the feet.

If the sciatic nerve becomes compressed or irritated, the pain can be severe. It may feel like a dull ache that can skip areas of the legs completely and be isolated to one area of the nerve, such as the feet.

Sciatica can result from a herniated disk in the spine, pregnancy, a degenerative joint problem, or muscle spasms.

Some treatment options for sciatica include:

  • trying physical therapy
  • stretching
  • taking anti-inflammatory medications
  • receiving steroid injections
  • trying massage
  • undergoing surgery for herniated disks

Learn about some stretches for sciatica here.


Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body and affects the central nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. The pain can be worse in frequently used areas of the body, such as the feet.

A person with fibromyalgia may experience foot pain at night. Aching feet at night may be due to lower levels of the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol while a person sleeps. People with fibromyalgia may generally have lower cortisol levels in their bodies.

Although there is currently no cure for fibromyalgia, treatments can reduce the severity of its symptoms. These include anti-inflammatory medications, antidepressants, and sleep medications.


Diabetes can affect blood circulation. Blood carries oxygen around the body, and if there is reduced circulation in the feet, the muscles may become deprived of the oxygen they need.

This can cause pain in the muscles in the feet.

There are many self-care strategies that a person can try to treat aching feet due to reduced blood circulation. For example, stopping smoking, exercising regularly, and eating a healthful diet can all help control diabetes and help increase blood circulation.

In more serious cases, angioplasty, stenting, or a surgical bypass may be necessary to improve circulation.

If a person has diabetes and experiences the following changes in their feet, they should seek medical advice:

  • a tingling sensation or pins and needles
  • a dull ache
  • loss of feeling in the feet
  • cramps when resting or walking

Diabetes can also cause nerve damage, or peripheral neuropathy, which may also result in foot pain at night.

Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is the name for a range of conditions that include damage to the peripheral nervous system. It often affects the feet and legs.

Neuropathy involves a disruption in the signals from the nervous system, resulting in pain.

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy depend on the type of nerve fibers affected and the extent of the damage.

Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in the feet can be worse at night, and they may develop over a period of days, weeks, or years.

They may include:

  • a tingling sensation or pins and needles in the feet
  • pain in the feet
  • burning sensations in the feet
  • stabbing or shooting pains in the feet
  • numbness
  • weakness

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, people with type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing peripheral neuropathy, with 60–70% of people experiencing mild-to-severe nerve damage resulting in pain.

High blood sugar levels are associated with nerve damage and can cause peripheral neuropathy, which is also known as diabetic polyneuropathy.

Physical injuries, viral infections, and drinking a lot of alcohol can also increase a person’s risk of developing peripheral neuropathy, according to the NHS.

Treatments for peripheral neuropathy aim to reduce pain. Doctors may recommend anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and skin creams and patches. Physical therapy can also help build up strength in the affected area.

Staying hydrated throughout the day can help prevent aching feet at night by encouraging the body to flush out waste products through urine during the day.

Performing foot exercises and stretches can strengthen the muscles to relieve pressure and muscle aches. However, people should stop doing them if they make foot pain worse.

Foot exercises include:

  • seated foot and heel raises
  • toe bends
  • holding the toe in a lifted position
  • calf stretches
  • ankle stretches

Wearing comfortable, supportive footwear helps prevent irritating the muscles and putting strain on the feet. Using insoles, arch supports, and soft-soled shoes can help support the feet during the day.

If a person experiences numbness, tingling in their feet, or a pain that does not go away, they should seek medical advice, as it could be a symptom of an underlying condition or injury.

There are several reasons that a person’s feet may ache at night. Anti-inflammatory medications can help with many of the causes, including injuries, irritated and compressed nerves, and chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia.

Many of the treatment options for aching feet at night are accessible, and a healthcare professional can help with lasting pain that does not respond to home treatment.