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What Causes Foot and Toe Cramps?

Tuesday, 03 January 2023 00:00

Anyone who has been jarred awake in the middle of the night by a toe, foot, or leg cramp knows how uncomfortable that can be. A cramp occurs when a muscle involuntarily contracts and is unable to relax. The intense pain caused by a cramp usually goes away, either on its own or by gently massaging or stretching the muscle that is affected. Athletes are most likely to experience foot and toe cramps after long bouts of exercise or other physical activity. High temperatures can also cause cramps from loss of electrolytes, which is a sign of dehydration. Wearing tight shoes or holding a specific position for a long period can bring on cramps, resulting from restricted blood flow. A more serious cause of cramps is arteriosclerosis, which is a constriction of blood flow to the extremities caused by a blockage in the arteries. In some cases, the cramping may be the result of diabetes, nerve damage, or Parkinson’s disease. Cramps may also be caused by deficiencies in certain minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. If lower leg, foot, or toe cramps are becoming a regular occurrence, it is wise to visit a podiatrist for a diagnosis and possible treatment options.

Toe pain can disrupt your daily activities. If you have any concerns, contact Chukwuma Ukata, DPM of Advanced Carolina Foot and Ankle Center. Our doctor can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

What Causes Toe Pain?

Most severe toe pain is caused due to a sports injury, trauma from dropping something heavy on the toe, or bumping into something rigid. Other problems can develop over time for various reasons.

Toe pain can be caused by one or more ailments. The most common include:

  • Trauma
  • Sports injury
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Corns and calluses
  • Hammertoe
  • Bunions
  • Blisters
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Sprains
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations

When to See a Podiatrist

  • Severe pain
  • Persistent pain that lasts more than a week
  • Signs of infection
  • Continued swelling
  • Pain that prevents walking


In many cases the cause of toe pain is obvious, but in others, a podiatrist may want to use more advanced methods to determine the problem. These can range from simple visual inspections and sensation tests to X-rays and MRI scans. Prior medical history, family medical history, and any recent physical traumatic events will all be taken into consideration for a proper diagnosis.


Treatments for toe pain and injuries vary and may include shoe inserts, padding, taping, medicines, injections, and in some cases, surgery. If you believe that you have broken a toe, please see a podiatrist as soon as possible.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact our office located in Garner, NC . We offer the newest diagnostic tools and technology to treat your foot and ankle needs.

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