Oddly Specific Leg Pain
May 14, 2014 12:24 PM   Subscribe

On Monday night, my spouse woke in the middle of the night several times with the distinct feeling of a needle being put into the back of her heel. Looking for potential explanations.

YANMD, and TINMA, but after an internet search, this is apparently fairly common. But what is it? My spouse describes the feeling as being just like a needle, right at the bottom of the leg - down where the Achilles meets the heel. It woke her from sleep, and there was external reason for this - no kids or cats pressing on her leg. She hasn't had any other foot or leg problems similar to this. At this point, we're more curious than

It could be a one-night thing that will never happen again. It could be a symptom of something else. The internet search she did turned up a question that described it perfectly, along with 25 people saying: "Yeah, that happened to me! Did you get an answer?"

Hivemind, your thoughts?
posted by China Grover to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
I had this a few years ago. It's called plantar fasciitis and it was excruciating. It lasted about two weeks and then mercifully stopped. My doc told me to elevate my leg when possible and also to take a cold or frozen bottle of water and roll my foot over it. Nasty but apparently common. Hope it doesn't last long.
posted by lois1950 at 1:34 PM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I used to feel a similarly-specific pain... it felt exactly as though a piece of glass had slashed the bottom of my foot (YEOW, I know!). It hasn't occurred in years, and I've just chalked it up to a random nerve misfire, or microscopic muscle twitch, or something along those lines. You know how your eyelid sometimes twitches? Who knows, there may be a similar phenomenon where a random afferent (instead of efferent) nerve accidentally signals "aiiie, pain!"
posted by julthumbscrew at 1:35 PM on May 14, 2014

Plantar fasitis or achilles tendinitis?

Both can be treated with stretches, ice and wearing better shoes.
posted by fontophilic at 1:37 PM on May 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

If it's exactly where the achilles meets the heel it's probably not plantar fasciitis, but could be achilles tendonitis or Retrocalcaneal Bursitis (the latter being my guess, since I have this in both heels and it sometimes wakes me up.)

(edited to add: she may not have the actual condition, but that bursa could have swelled or gotten pinched while she was sleeping because of her foot position that night).
posted by stagewhisper at 2:47 PM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Just coming in to add to fontophilic's suggestion that this might be achilles tendinitis. I had these exact symptoms after exercise while wearing running shoes with a low heel drop (kind of minimalist running type shoes). Stretches for the achilles tendon might help! Also fixed ankle popping stuff... used to be every time I'd go down stairs they'd make popping noises, and after consistent gentle stretching it's now quite rare.
posted by belau at 4:57 PM on May 14, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you all for your input. The pain hasn't recurred, thankfully, so we're going to keep all this info in case it does.
posted by China Grover at 7:31 AM on May 21, 2014

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