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Foot pain from night splint?

Posted by Amanda on 4/29/05 at 14:25 (173931)

I purchased the Cub night splint which seemed comfortable, but when I use it I awake in the middle of the night with pain on top of my foot, in the center, as if the splint is pressing down too hard. I tried putting the straps looser, but still awoke with pressure on top of my foot. I have very high arches and I wondered if that has something to do with it.. has anyone else had this experience with a night splint in general or the Cub in particular?


Re: Foot pain from night splint?

Joe A on 4/29/05 at 17:57 (173942)

Hi Amanda.

I supposedly have a new Cub waiting for me at home. I'm going to try it tonight.

First, if it hurts you better take it off or loosen it some more. The cub is supposed to be adjustable. What setting are you at. I believe it depends on how flexible you are what setting will be 'tolerable' for you. Just don't over do it. How flexible are you?

My recommendation would be to start with the Cub set to the lowest setting then move it up until it just starts to feel uncomfortable. I think the Cub is adjusted in 5 degree increments between 0-15 degrees then has a wedge for another 5 degrees.

Just please don't over do it Amanda, because PF is an over-strech injury in the first place!

Hopefully, some others that have worn them will respond, because I too could use some advice!

Good luck!

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

JoeA on 4/29/05 at 20:08 (173951)

It looks like the default setting out of the box for the HealWell Cub is 5 degrees of dorsiflextion. Maybe you could try dropping it to 0 degrees?

Of course, if your doctor prescribed this thing then you might want to give him a call since I am not a doctor.

I wasn't sure whether I should get the HealWell Cub or the HealWell with the straps (58-409). I opted for the Cub because it looks more comfortable. I hope it works out.

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

JoeA on 4/30/05 at 08:49 (173964)

Well, I woke up at 3:30 AM with pain above my ankle too. Being half awake I tore the thing off in 2 seconds flat and put it on the night stand. I have a normal arch, but I could see where having a high arch could possibly cause more of a pressure point.

Last night while watching TV, I had it on the default 5 degree setting. After I put it on, I was worried, I could definitely flex my toes up and down and the whole thing would shift. I didn't think that it was going to 'hold' the dorsiflexion enough. However, after leaving it on for a few minutes - wow I really began to feel a pull under the ball of my foot.

Due to your experience and that pull I felt, I figured it would be wise to drop it down to the 0 degree setting. This is what I used when I went to bed.

I believe that the pain above the ankle is caused by the support band that holds your foot into the V of the splint. It makes sure that your foot maintains the proper amount of dorsiflexion. I imagine that this would be a common problem and might be worse in some other models.

Maybe our tolerance will grow? How did it go for you after the first night?

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

KW on 4/30/05 at 12:28 (173984)

I'm also having problems with my night splint! My problem seems to be that there is too much of a stretch and when my foot is stretched that much my tissue starts to flare-up. I haven't experienced any discomfort anywhere else, it's just in the heel and the arch. It wouldn't be such a bad thing if it were to only stretch, but it seems to irritate it as well causing the flare-up. After wearing it, I actually wake-up with the tissue feeling more raw and when I don't wear it, it feels better in the morning, less raw, but definitely tighter. I'm not sure how to proceed. This morning I wore it for about an hour and that seemed to be okay. Any thoughts...

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

JoeA on 4/30/05 at 13:49 (173987)

KW, what kind of splint do you have? Is it adjustable?

How long have you been wearing it to bed?

- joe

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

KW on 4/30/05 at 14:40 (173992)

I have the Cub. I started off (about a week ago) wearing it at the lowest level - losely. Then, I kept it at 0 degrees, but wore it tighter after two days. Unfortunately, I had a big flare-up after about 3 days and now I've just been wearing it for part of the night or for an hour during the day. I was supposed to increase it up to 5 degrees after two weeks, so we'll see. I don't pull the straps completely tight, but I can still feel some resistance. I'm sort of confused b/c people say it's not supposed to stretch, but to stabilize and I can definitely feel a stretch. My pain/inflamation has mainly been in my arch and sometimes it feels irritated in my heel, but now I can feel a tightness moving into my calf/acl. tendon, which I had never had before. I'm thinking about laying-low on the splint and just continuing to swim and stretch the rest of my body and rest my feet, but it's hard to know how to proceed. How long have you been wearing yours? I know of people who swear by the night splint.

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

JoeA on 5/01/05 at 08:41 (174014)

If you think that the flare up was caused by increasing the angle on the night splint then maybe you should back it off. (If doctor prescribed - maybe you should let him know.) Are you sure it wasn't something else though? I read that it can take 12-36 hours for the flare-up - from the time of the injury.

I've found the following to be dangerous. Going up stairs on your toes, squatting down with your heels up, jumping etc.. Anything that puts a lot of pressure on the forefoot. Then walking on your heels causes a different set of problems.

'Strech' - I guess its relative... Your doctor's goal is to prevent it from healing short - so to him its stabilizing. When its shortened and you can feel it pulling against the splint then to you its a strech!

Three months ago, when I thought I was getting over this I felt increasing tightness. I think that as the PF heals that it tends to tighten. If it heals short - then that can lead to your next set back.

There seems to be two trains of thought on streching. One is to strech immediately & often, bear through some initial increased pain, then hopefully have it heal. The other idea is to let it heal somewhat before you strech to prevent it from getting aggrevated.

My view is, you don't want to let it heal short. So do some streching initially but the streches should be gentle in the beginning. Meaning - no weight bearing streches - like the stair strech. As the PF heals streching intensity can be slowly increased. The best strech is a passive controlled strech like with a splint. Its gentle and works over time. It eliminates the intense pressure of trying to strech in 30 second intervals.

Joe - (Not a doctor!)

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

KW on 5/01/05 at 14:03 (174034)

Hi Joe,

That is some very good advice. I'm just so confused right now! I don't even know where to begin. I got this terrible case of PF about 6 weeks ago and just from reading on the internet, I think I have what might be called 'sudden acute' onset. Literally, my feet were burning for 3 weeks! I even had to come home from living in another country! Anyhow, since then I've seen a doctor and she was able to perscribe for me the night splints and a good pair of orthotics. I was doing okay with those things until I had a major 'flare-up' about 3 days ago. I have not been able to get back on track since. My orthotics now feel too bothersome and the night splint stretches it too much so I have those 'flare-ups'. It seem like I look at my feet wrong and they flare-up. I'm feeling really terrible right now, but I do have a doc appt on Monday and I've very hopeful for that. My mom thinks the next step may be cortizone shots, but I'm thinking tapping... It's hard to know what to do. How did things go with wearing the night splint. Have you had any luck? Feeling sad, KW

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

Amanda on 5/01/05 at 15:36 (174039)

Joe, thanks for your responses! I think I too will lay off the splint for a while. I have had PF for 3 months and it seems to be stable but not really getting better. So... still on the lookout for the right treatment for me but trying to be patient! I may try to set the Cub at the 0 degrees of dorsiflexion as you suggested. KW, hang in there, I know where you are coming from and trying to be patient while also proactive is very difficult! Good luck to everyone and keep sharing your experiences--


Re: Foot pain from night splint?

Joe A on 5/02/05 at 12:20 (174093)

KW hang in there! I recommend rest-rest-rest. I hope the doctor has something else for you. I'm avoiding cortizone since its focus seems to be to attack the symptoms more than the problem. On the other hand, once your foot gets inflamed it seems like your feet just go haywire almost like they are cramping/burning/screaming. I think in that sense that Cortizone and other anti-inflamatories can help. If the Cortizone is to allow you to resume normal activities - I would advise against it. You better have some more testing since the 'Sudden Acuteness' makes your case more suspect.


I wore my night splint for two more nights. Every night, I last about 3 hours.

Last night after waking up in pain, I inserted a sock - as padding - on the outside of my ankle (where the Cub brace rests - lateral side of the ankle) and over the top of my foot where the ankle support strap rests. Mind you, I did this in the middle of the night, in complete darkness, in a drowzy blur... I think I lasted another hour or so like that. At first it felt OK, but eventually the pain returned. I also really loosened the straps and that might have helped. (I had the splint on 0 degrees again.)

Why is this thing bothering me? Would I be better off with a different design???

I thought that the cause of the problem might be that the blankets were pressing down on my toes and causing me to plantar-flex (toes down) and that was causing increased pressure on the ankle. So, the last two nights I have slept with my foot outside of my sheets and blankets. It does not seem to help.

I encourage you to stick with the splints if/when possible. I started out with this PF last October. By Feb I was almost better. Well, then I did some things that a normal healthy person would do and my PF slowly got worse and worse again. I believe the reason was because the PF was tight and doing normal activities then causes it to reinjure. This time, I want to be sure I'm doing everything.

I'm wondering if the Cub is not a great design and is somehow contributing to our discomfort. Well, in my case, I know that it is contributing, but I don't know if other models are better.

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

KW on 5/02/05 at 13:15 (174106)

Hi Joe,

It sounds like it could be a problem with the model, and I think the idea of putting a little padding in there may help. It seems that if it isn't hurting the fascia, but it is bothering you in other ways it could be that you need to try another model. I always thought the travel model that's sold on this site looked good.

I too have still been experimenting with the splint. I think your last few posts have reinforced the impotance of the injury healing while it's lengthened. What I did last night was wear one splint on my left foot for about an hour and then on the other for about an hour. It seems that if I'm only wearing one it's less likely to 'flare-up' - go figure. I was feeling good about it and ended up wearing the splint on one foot for half the night and then then half way though the night ended up swithing to the other foot. I did have a baby flare-up, but I woke-up and found that my feet felt less tight, but more tingley. Walking around now, I think this may be okay.

My thought is, maybe you can wear the night splint for a few hours before bed and if you have a chance, during the day and see where it bothers you so you can cushion that area. It seemed to help me to slowely build up to wearing it all night.

What I'm facing now is finding the best shoes. The shoes that my insoles are in, put a lot of pressure on the front of my feet, but I need the support of the insoles. When I put the insoles in the shoes I have with better support I feel a rubbing on my arch. I'm going to see the POD today and hope that I can find something that will work with the more supportive shoes, but right now I'm playing it safe and wearing my old ones that don't bother my arch.

Let me know how things progress with your night splint and I'll keep you posted on mine. Kathleen

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

John H on 5/03/05 at 08:59 (174155)

Having watched post about night splints on this board for many years It is apparent they help some, make some worse, and some cannot sleep in them. I think they are always worth a try. When I first tried on it was a long one that came up just below the knee, it was hard plastic and non adjustable. I could not sleep in it and it became loose during the night. I then tried the sock type that more or lesss pulls on your toes. This also became loose during the night. Finally I tried the one Scott sells (Nice & Easy??) and it is very adjustable, easy for me to sleep in and folds up for easy travel and is relatively inexpensive. Some people adjust to several degrees or more of dorsiflexion. Some adjust to neutral. I do not think there is a firm answer on this as we all are different. I also understand the use of this is to prevent the fascia from going to less than neutral as you sleep. If it is in a healing mode you would like for it to heal in the neutral position. Some experts write they are especially useful in preventing first step pain. This makes some scientific sense.

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

Joe A on 5/03/05 at 12:28 (174175)

I finally was able to sleep through the night with my Cub night splint. Last night, I inserted a white sock (for padding) along the outside of my foot where the hard plastic of the splint was pressing against my ankle. It seems that this helped a lot. I had the sock more ideally positioned so this time it helped more. Hopefully this will continue to work.

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

KW on 5/03/05 at 13:02 (174179)

That's great news Joe! I too slept the whole night with one of the Cubs! I just wore one. I think I was going to wear them on both, but feel asleep before I put the other one on. Today, my feet are both feeling pretty good and I'm so happy about that. I'm also experimenting with arch supports and those seem to be helping too. Keep me posted and I'll do the same.

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

Scott R on 5/03/05 at 18:05 (174197)

John, you've bought enough N'ice Stretches, you should remember the name by now... ;)

Re: Foot pain from night splint?

John H on 5/04/05 at 10:58 (174228)

Yes I have scottr. The last one I gave to my daughter as she seems to have inherited some of my foot problems. Nice Stretch remains my favorite of the night splints. I will show my PT one of them. Send any referal fees to Dr. Z. He needs the money to support his trips to Europe.

Re: me too...amanda

fernando on 5/05/05 at 16:59 (174320)

I had the same problem, after a few minutes of using it I felt cold in the ball of the foot and the toes, i stop using it