Prickly feeling feet from standing all day
Originally Published: May 2, 2003
I work 10-hour days, four-days-a-week, standing in one spot. The bottom of my feet feel like a lot of needles are pricking my soles. I am female, age 57. Could you please tell me what could be causing this? Just started about one month ago.
Prickly feeling in the soles of your feet can be caused by a number of things. For example, diabetes can cause nerve damage that could lead to prickling sensations or the lack of sensation in the lower legs and/or feet. Other problems that cause nerve damage (slipped disc) or decreased blood flow (hardening of the arteries) may cause odd sensations in the legs or feet.
A common problem, however, that may account for your symptoms is called plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation (swelling) of a thick band of tissue (the plantar fascia) in the sole of your foot. This tissue provides support for your foot's arch. Stressing your foot through new exercise, being overweight, or by standing on your feet for 40 hours a week can bring on this painful condition. Some of the symptoms of plantar fasciitis include the prickly feeling you describe, as well as burning, pain when first taking a step after being off of your feet overnight, pain while walking, and pain when trying to stand on tiptoe.
As with any new physical symptom, your health care provider can determine whether or not your foot discomfort is a sign of anything serious. A couple of questions a health care provider might ask you include:
- Do you have any other medical conditions?
- Do you have any other aches or pains that you've begun noticing?
- When do you notice the prickling sensations? Are they worse at certain times?
If plantar fasciitis seems to be a likely culprit, here are some things you can do that might relieve the pain:
- Avoid activities that stress your feet and increase pain.
- Make sure you are wearing shoes that fit well and don't stress your feet (avoid high heels, for example).
- Apply a towel-covered ice pack to the heel and arch of your feet about four times each day, for 15 - 20 minutes at a time.
- Use an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin) to relieve the pain and decrease the internal swelling. Even acetaminophen may help your feet feel better.
- Ask your health care provider about possibly using orthotics (shoe inserts that support and cushion your feet) and/or wearing a night splint while sleeping to support your feet in a healthy position.
- Ask your health care provider to recommend stretching exercises, or refer you to a physical therapist who can provide you with exercises to increase the length of the plantar fascia and Achilles' tendon. It's thought that part of the pain is due to decreased elasticity during aging; also, strengthening other muscles may help support the arch of the foot.
- Ask your health care provider whether a cortisone injection into the bottom of your feet might decrease pain and accelerate healing.
In the few rare cases where none of the above suggestions help, and when someone is experiencing significant disability from plantar fasciitis, the affected foot may be put into a cast for 4 - 6 weeks. As a last resort, surgery may be performed to release the tight band of tissue, improving the symptoms.
Employers might consider allowing their constantly standing staffs to sit down on the job at least for periods of time during the workday. It may look more professional for sales counter attendants, door people, security guards, and others to stand at attention, but it may also lead to feet and back problems that will disable them from working at all.
Hope you find some relief,