Restless Legs Syndrome Sports Medicine / Fitness

Causes and home remedies for toe cramps

Causes of toe cramps can include:

1. Tight or weak muscles

Holding toes due to toe crampsShare on PinterestA sedentary lifestyle or wearing ill-fitting shoes can lead to muscle tension and weakness.

Dozens of tiny muscles help the foot and toes move. Tightness in any of these muscles can cause muscle spasms and pain.

Sometimes the pain comes from another muscle. An example of this might be tension in the ankle or Achilles tendon that causes muscle spasms in the foot or toes.

Some common reasons for muscle tension or weakness include:

  • a new exercise routine
  • wearing ill-fitting shoes
  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • not stretching before exercise

2. Muscle injuries

Injuries to muscles and other tissues in the feet, toes, or calves can cause toe cramps or soreness.

Sprains, which are injuries to ligaments, can cause weakness and pain in the toes. Strains, which are injuries to muscles or tendons, can also cause pain.

Some common causes of muscle injuries include:

  • overexertion
  • a fall or blow to the foot or leg
  • overextending a muscle, tendon, or ligament

3. Poorly fitting shoes

High heels, shoes that are too tight or loose, and pointy-toed shoes can put pressure on the toes and surrounding areas.

This pressure can cause toe cramps, especially if the shoes force them into an awkward position. Shoes that do not fit properly can also cause muscle injuries.

4. Dehydration

Dehydration sometimes causes muscles to cramp or feel tense.

Dehydration is especially likely to cause toe cramps when the muscles are already injured or overexerted, or when tight shoes hurt the toes.

5. Electrolyte imbalances

Electrolyte imbalances can cause the muscles to cramp and spasm. Sometimes, dehydration causes an electrolyte imbalance.

In other cases, an underlying medical condition may be the culprit. Tetany, which is due to low levels of calcium, is an electrolyte imbalance that may cause muscle cramps.

6. Restless leg syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) can cause nighttime foot and leg cramps, odd sensations in the legs, and make it difficult for a person to fall asleep.

About a third of people over 50 years old experience RLS. Nighttime foot and leg cramps are also common when women are pregnant.

RLS is not well understood, and doctors are not sure what causes it.

7. Nerve damage

Neuropathy is when a person’s nerves are damaged. The condition causes pain, cramps, tingling, or numbness.

Uncontrolled diabetes is a common cause of nerve damage. People with diabetic neuropathy commonly experience pain, muscle spasms, numbness, and sores on the feet and toes.

Other conditions can also cause nerve damage, including Parkinson’s disease.

8. Poor blood flow

When there is not enough blood flow to the feet or toes, they may ache or spasm. Sitting for a long time, having diabetes, and crossing the legs for too long can slow blood flow to the toes and feet.

Peripheral artery disease causes arteries throughout the body to narrow, weakening blood flow. This condition may also cause toe cramps.

9. Arthritis

Arthritis is a group of diseases that cause pain and inflammation in the joints. For some people, the pain of arthritis feels like muscle cramps.

If a person is also experiencing joint pain, or if other joints hurt, such as those in the hands, it could be a sign of arthritis.

10. Dystonia

Dystonia is a symptom and not a disease. Dystonia is an ongoing involuntary contraction or spasm in a muscle or group of muscles.

Numerous medical conditions, such as Wilson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries, or even a stroke can cause dystonia.

11. Organ failure

Problems with various organs can alter electrolyte levels, make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients, and damage muscles and nerves.

Organ failure can cause pain, cramps, and spasms throughout the body. People at risk of kidney or liver failure should see a doctor if they are experience muscle cramps.

12. Rare infections

Very rarely, an infection can damage the muscles or harm the nervous system in a way that causes muscle cramps.

Tetanus, for example, can cause muscle spasms, though the spasms usually begin in the stomach or jaw.

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