Toe Cramps | Why Are My Toes Cramping? | Triad Foot & Ankle Center

Why Are My Toes Cramping?

Your toes and feet bear your body weight. Added to that, they get squeezed into tight-fitting shoes and they’re subject to pressure from playing sports or other activities, sometimes causing toe cramps. These can be mildly annoying or very intense, which can make walking difficult.

What Causes Toe Cramps?

Tight or Weak Muscles

Your toes are controlled by dozens of tiny muscles which can become tight and cause muscle spasms and pain. A toe spasm can be caused by tension in the ankle or Achilles tendon due to a new exercise routine, wearing ill-fitting shoes, failing to stretch before exercise or a sedentary lifestyle.

Muscle Injuries

Muscle injuries or injuries to other tissues in the feet, toes or calves, can cause cramps or soreness. Sprains and strains caused by overexertion, a fall or blow to the foot or leg or overextending a muscle or ligament are common causes of such injuries.

Poorly Fitting Shoes

High fashion shoes such as high heels, shoes that are too tight or too loose or pointy-toed, all put pressure on your toes and surrounding areas. That pressure can cause toe cramps when shoes force your toes into awkward positions.


It’s common for dehydration to cause muscles to cramp or feel tense and it’s especially likely to cause toe cramps when muscles are already injured or overexerted.

Electrolyte Imbalances

This is sometimes related to dehydration, causing muscles to cramp and spasm. Sometimes an underlying medical condition such as Tetany, due to low levels of calcium can cause muscle cramps.

Restless Leg Syndrome

RLS can cause nighttime foot and leg cramps making it difficult to fall asleep.

Nerve Damage

Uncontrolled diabetes commonly causes nerve damage causing people with diabetic neuropathy to experience pain, muscle spasms, numbness and sores on the feet and toes.

Poor Blood Flow

When your toes don’t get enough blood flow, they may ache or spasm. Sitting too long, diabetes, and crossing the legs too long can slow the blood flow to the toes and feet. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) causes your arteries to narrow, weakening blood flow and this condition can cause toe cramps.


Often home remedies will alleviate toe cramps. Stretching, exercise, rest, ice compression and elevation, heat, massage or taking Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are all first-line treatments for toe cramps.  If toe cramps last for more than a few days or are so painful that it’s difficult to walk or function, it’s best to see a doctor.

To prevent toe cramps, keep physically active, wear supportive shoes that fit, stretch the muscles of the toes and feet every day, and treat any underlying medical conditions.

If you are suffering from toe cramps and want to be evaluated by one of our physicians at Triad Foot & Ankle Center, please call 336-375-6990, or visit our website at to request an appointment.

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