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In-Depth Guide: How to Sleep with Plantar Fasciitis

Understanding Plantar Fasciitis is the first step in managing this common foot condition. It’s a pesky problem that causes heel pain, often most severe in the morning.

The pain of plantar fasciitis is due to inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. It’s one of the most common causes of heel pain, and it can make those first steps out of bed a real challenge.

Causes and Symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis is often caused by repetitive movement and excessive stress on the plantar fascia ligament. This can occur in athletes, weekend warriors, or anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet, especially on hard surfaces.

Symptoms include a sharp pain at the bottom of the heel, often worse in the morning, and sometimes heel spurs are present too.

How Plantar Fasciitis Affects Your Sleep

Plantar fasciitis can indeed affect your sleep in several ways:

  1. Pain: The most direct way plantar fasciitis can affect your sleep is through pain. This condition can cause significant discomfort, especially after long periods of rest or during the first steps in the morning. This pain can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night.
  2. Discomfort: Even if the pain isn’t severe, the discomfort associated with plantar fasciitis can make it hard to find a comfortable sleeping position, leading to restless sleep or difficulty falling asleep.
  3. Stress and Anxiety: Chronic pain conditions like plantar fasciitis can lead to stress and anxiety, which in turn can disrupt sleep. Worrying about the pain and how it will affect your ability to walk or stand the next day can make it hard to relax and fall asleep.
  4. Night Splints: Some people with plantar fasciitis wear night splints to keep their foot in a flexed position, which can help stretch the plantar fascia and reduce morning pain. However, these splints can be uncomfortable and may disrupt sleep.
  5. Medications: Some medications used to manage the pain of plantar fasciitis, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can cause side effects like stomach upset that can interfere with sleep.
  6. Lifestyle Changes: Plantar fasciitis may require you to make lifestyle changes, such as reducing physical activity levels, which can in turn affect sleep patterns.

If plantar fasciitis is affecting your sleep, it’s important to discuss this with your healthcare provider.

They can suggest strategies to manage the pain and improve your sleep, such as using pain relief methods, adjusting your sleep environment, or exploring cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) to address sleep-related anxiety and stress.

Why is Plantar Fasciitis So Bad at Night?

Plantar fasciitis can often feel worse at night or in the morning for a few reasons:

  1. Inactivity: When you’re inactive for long periods, such as during sleep, the plantar fascia can tighten and become stiff. This can make the pain more intense when you first start moving again, such as when you get out of bed in the morning or get up after sitting for a long time.
  2. Positioning: The position of your foot during sleep can also affect your symptoms. If your foot is pointed down while you sleep, this can shorten the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon, leading to pain when you stretch them again.
  3. Night Splints: If you’re wearing a night splint to keep your foot in a flexed position, this can cause discomfort and disrupt your sleep, making it feel like your symptoms are worse at night.
  4. Circadian Rhythms: Some research suggests that our pain tolerance may be lower at certain times of day due to our body’s natural circadian rhythms, which could make the pain feel worse at night.

If your plantar fasciitis symptoms are disrupting your sleep, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider.

They can suggest strategies to manage the pain and improve your sleep, such as adjusting your sleep position, using a different type of night splint, or exploring other pain management strategies.

Practical Tips for Sleeping with Plantar Fasciitis

Sleeping with plantar fasciitis can be a challenge, but there are some practical tips that can help make it easier. With the right strategies and lifestyle changes, you can get better quality sleep and reduce pain at the same time.

Here are some tips for sleeping with plantar fasciitis:

Using Splints for Night Relief

Night splints, like the Strassburg sock or a plantar fasciitis night splint, can provide relief. They hold the foot in a relaxed position, stretching the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. For side sleepers, a posterior night splint might be the best option.

Foot Exercises Before Bedtime

Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis. A physical therapist can provide a treatment plan with strengthening exercises and stretches. The towel stretch, for example, involves pulling your toes towards you with a towel while in a seated position.

Rolling a tennis ball or frozen water bottle under the arch of the foot may also provide relief.

Cushioning

Placing a pillow or rolled-up towel under your ankles can help keep your feet in a neutral position. This can prevent your feet from pointing downwards, which can shorten the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and increase pain.

The Role of Pain Relief Medication

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. In severe cases, a cortisone shot might be recommended. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new medication.

Avoid Tucking

Try to avoid tucking your feet under the covers or pointing your toes while you sleep, as this can also shorten the plantar fascia and increase pain.

Does Sleeping with Feet Elevated Help Plantar Fasciitis Pain?

Elevating your feet while sleeping can potentially help with plantar fasciitis, but the benefits can vary from person to person.

Here’s why it might help:

  1. Reduced Swelling: If your plantar fasciitis is accompanied by inflammation and swelling, elevating your feet can help reduce these symptoms. This is because elevation helps to improve circulation and encourages the flow of fluid away from the inflamed area.
  2. Relaxed Muscles and Tendons: Elevating your feet can also help to relax the muscles and tendons in your feet, potentially reducing tension on the plantar fascia.
  3. Improved Comfort: For some people, elevating their feet can simply be more comfortable, especially if they’ve been on their feet a lot during the day.

However, it’s important to note that while elevation can help with symptoms like swelling, it doesn’t directly address the underlying causes of plantar fasciitis, such as tight calf muscles or a tight Achilles tendon.

For some people, a more effective approach might be to sleep with a night splint or boot that keeps the foot flexed and the plantar fascia gently stretched. This can help to reduce morning pain, which is a common symptom of plantar fasciitis.

As always, it’s best to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice. They can recommend the most effective strategies based on your specific symptoms and circumstances.

What is the Best Night Splint for Plantar Fasciitis?

There are several night splints available for plantar fasciitis, and the best one for you may depend on your individual needs and preferences.

Here are a few popular options that have received positive reviews:

  1. Strassburg Sock: This sock-like night splint stretches the plantar fascia and calf muscles while you sleep. It’s lightweight, comfortable, and can be adjusted to provide the desired level of tension.
  2. Futuro Night Plantar Fasciitis Sleep Support: This splint features a cushioned pad that holds the foot in a dorsiflexed position, maintaining a gentle stretch on the plantar fascia throughout the night. It is adjustable, breathable, and relatively affordable.
  3. Pro-Tec Night Splint: This splint has a sturdy, adjustable shell with a soft padded liner. It holds the foot in a dorsiflexed position, providing a gentle stretch. The design allows for customization and provides good support.
  4. BraceAbility Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint Sock: This is a well-regarded option for individuals with plantar fasciitis. This night splint sock is designed to provide gentle stretching and support to the plantar fascia and calf muscles while you sleep. It features a lightweight, breathable material that promotes airflow and comfort throughout the night.

It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional or a specialist, such as a podiatrist, to determine the best night splint for your specific condition and to ensure proper usage.

When to Seek Professional Help

If self-care measures don’t work, it might be time to see a healthcare professional. A doctor can provide more specific treatment options, such as shockwave therapy or steroid injections. It’s also important to get medical help if your foot pain persists for more than a few days.

Remember, the sooner you get treatment for plantar fasciitis, the better your chances of avoiding long-term damage to the ligament.

In addition, you should seek medical help if the pain is so severe that it prevents you from engaging in everyday activities such as walking or standing for long periods.

It’s also a good idea to see a doctor if you have any other symptoms like swelling, numbness, or redness on the bottom of your foot.

Finally, if the pain is accompanied by a fever or you experience any other symptoms that concern you, it’s best to seek medical attention right away. Plantar fasciitis doesn’t usually require surgery, but in some cases it may be necessary to relieve persistent pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

What movements make plantar fasciitis worse?

Certain activities can worsen plantar fasciitis symptoms, including prolonged standing, high-impact exercises like running or jumping, and walking barefoot on hard surfaces.

Climbing stairs or hills, sudden sole stretching, and overpronation (excessive inward foot rolling) can also exacerbate the condition.

Does wearing socks at night help with plantar fasciitis?

Wearing socks at night can provide some relief for individuals with plantar fasciitis, but its effectiveness may vary. Socks can offer gentle compression and warmth, which can alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

They can also prevent the foot from becoming excessively dry, which can exacerbate symptoms. Additionally, some socks are specifically designed for plantar fasciitis, with added arch support or padding. These features can help distribute pressure and provide additional comfort.

Does soaking your feet in hot water help plantar fasciitis?

Soaking your feet in hot water can provide temporary relief for plantar fasciitis symptoms. The heat from the water can help relax the muscles, increase blood circulation, and reduce pain and stiffness in the feet. Additionally, soaking can have a soothing effect, promoting relaxation and stress relief.