Toe Cramping at Night

Toe cramping at night is a painful spasm or contraction of a muscle in the foot of the body. The pain may last for a few seconds to a few minutes, with an intensity that may vary from a slight tic to an intense painful muscle contraction. Toe cramps affect people of all age groups and may strike anytime, at the middle of the night, during exercise, or even while walking. Cause Toe cramping at night can be caused by several different reasons. The simplest reason is that the foot is in a bad position during sleeping. For example, if the blankets on the bed are too heavy, they may push the foot into the plantar flexed position of pointing the toes. When this happens, the toe muscles may be contracted for extended periods of time, which causes cramping. One primary reason is nutritional deficiency. Not having enough potassium, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, or vitamin D can cause toe cramping at night. Not drinking enough water is also another cause. Dehydration frequently causes cramps in several parts of the body. Not having enough oxygen in the toes is also associated with toe cramping at night. This condition more commonly occurs in those who have heart problems or diabetes. Toe cramping at night may also be associated with wearing shoes that are too tight during the daytime. Shoes that are not wide enough or tall enough in the toe box result in cramping of the toes which does not go away easily if it has been present for several hours. Treatment and Prevention The first thing to do is consider whether or not your habits are causing toe cramping at night. Are your blankets too heavy, pressing down on your foot during sleeping? Are your shoes too tight or not tall enough in the toe box area? It’s relatively easy to replace shoes that are contributing to the toe cramping. Supportive shoes that are wide and have a tall toe box are the solution; however, each person’s foot is different and often someone’s right foot is different from their left foot. The use of customized ¾ orthotic inserts and arch supports is often necessary for people. The longer that a foot is left out of alignment, the more prone the person is to injury and the development of foot disorders. If neither one of these causes – heavy blankets or improper shoes are not contributing to the toe cramping at night, then an evaluation by a medical professional is important. Lab tests can determine whether or not dehydration or vitamin deficiency is a cause. Lab reports also may indicate that diabetes or a heart condition is present and further tests will be ordered to confirm this suspicion.