What Are the Causes of Needle-Like Pain in the Foot at Night?

By Arlene Miles ; Updated July 27, 2017

Needle-like pain in the foot at night is caused by two different conditions—neuropathy and tarsal tunnel syndrome. Both conditions affect the nerves in the feet and can be aggravated by diabetes, or even have it as an underlying cause.


This is a condition in which the peripheral nerves of the body are damaged or not working correctly. When affecting both feet, the condition is called polyneuropathy. Some patients experience only numbness, while others suffer tingling or shooting pain.

Neuropathic Causes

Although diabetes is the most common cause, neuropathy can also develop as a side effect from drugs, alcohol abuse, AIDS, environmental toxins and old age. It can also result from injury to the area that results in a loss of oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.

Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

This condition is a compression of the tibial nerve that runs down the side of the leg toward the foot. With this affliction, shooting pains occur on the soles of the feet.

Syndrome Causes

Back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, ankle injury, and abnormal blood vessels such as varicose veins, cysts, swollen tendons and bone spurs can contribute to or exist in conjunction with tarsal tunnel syndrome.


As a systemic disease, diabetes often causes swelling of the body’s tissues, which in turn compresses nerves, contributing to the presence of both conditions.

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