Many patients over the age of 65 who have a history of smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol wake up at night with pain in their foot or toes. Some believe this is arthritis or gout; others think it is the result of just spending too much time on their feet during the day. Patients often self-adapt to this problem, as it usually develops slowly over time, but when questioned about their sleep habits, they will sometimes tell you that they sleep in a recliner or they sleep with their leg hanging over the side of the bed to make their pain go away.
It is very common for elderly patients to get up at night to go to the bathroom. Sometimes, however, it’s actually foot pain that wakes them up. Once up, they get out of bed because that makes their feet feel better (again due to gravity) and after walking to the bathroom they can go back to sleep, pain -free for a couple of hours. Even that small amount of walking helps to get their blood flowing again and makes it easier for them to go back to sleep.
Sometimes, foot pain at night is the sign of a more serious condition.
- Foot pain at night may be related to having poor circulation in the foot. The name for this in medical terms is “rest pain”. This is not “pain at rest” but rather pain that happens because the circulation cannot support the tissues even when they are at rest.
Foot pain at night may be an early warning sign of critical limb ischemia.
- Chronic Limb Ischemia is another term for lack of blood flow; if you experience this rest pain at night and it goes away after hanging your foot over the side of the bed or chair you are sleeping in, immediately call and speak with your doctor to set up an appointment for them to evaluate your symptoms. Although it may come on slowly, the arteries in your feet may be so blocked that they cannot even deliver the minimal amount of oxygen the tissues in the foot and toes need to keep them nourished. Left untreated, this blockage can lead to a more serious problem, amputation or even death.
What’s important for the patient to realize is that chronic limb ischemia causes the foot and leg to get swollen, so the patient is often MIS-DIAGNOSED with a vein problem, not an arterial problem
- It is the “Right” experience that matters in diagnosing these kinds of vascular problems and why more local independent physicians refer their vein and vascular patients to Dr Kokinos than to any other vascular surgeon in the Silicon Valley Region. https://www.southbayvascular.com/blog/the-right-experience-counts-when-it-comes-to-your-health/
If this sounds like something you or someone you love is experiencing, it is important to tell your primary care doctor OR schedule an appointment DIRECTLY with a vascular surgeon. These symptoms are a sign that your body is giving you that you may need immediate help. This truly is a sign that your foot is starving for oxygen and blood and that if left untreated, might lead to an unnecessary amputation. Help is possible, however and if treated early enough, those suffering from these symptoms can be helped significantly.
If you suffer from painful feet in the middle of the night, WE CAN HELP
South Bay Vascular Center and Vein Institute: We Offer Hope When Others Say There Is None.