Foot cramps can occur suddenly and cause intense pain. Cramps can occur on the tops of your feet, around your toes, or in the arch of the foot. They can happen at any time, including in the middle of the night and during physical activity.
Depending on the cause, many foot cramps can go away on their own. Those that are persistent or extremely painful may require medical treatment by a podiatrist.
Common Causes of Foot Cramps
When the muscles of the feet are unable to relax, a cramp can occur. Most cramps are not serious but some can be so painful that they wake you up in the middle of the night, limit your mobility, or cause the muscles of your feet to freeze. Once you understand the cause of your foot cramps, you can treat them accordingly.
Anyone can get cramps in their feet. Those who run, dance, or exercise frequently can experience foot cramping as well as those who are older or overweight. There are a variety of factors that can cause foot cramping. Some common causes are:
- Muscle fatigue from overuse
- Stress on the feet from sports or exercise
- Poor circulation
- Tight shoes or shoes that do not fit properly
- Dehydration and poor diet
- Low potassium levels
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Foot conditions such as flat foot
- Medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorder, or a hormone imbalance
- Pinched nerve
- Medication such as diuretics
Foot Cramp Treatment Options
Treating a foot cramp can often be done at home. Depending on the cause, more severe cramps may need to be evaluated by a podiatrist. Some at-home treatments for foot cramps are:
- Massaging the cramped muscles to help them relax to relieve pain
- Stretching the foot in the opposite direction of the cramp or pulling the toes upward to release pressure
- Applying pressure directly to the cramp
- Soaking the feet in warm water to relax the muscles
- Applying heat to the foot by using a hot water bottle or heating pad to increase blood flow to the area that is cramping
- Eating a potassium-rich food such as a banana
If the cramping in your foot is severe, does not go away on its own, or is happening frequently, see a podiatrist for an evaluation. A podiatrist will examine your feet to diagnose the cause of your pain and cramping. They may also review your medical history, lifestyle, and medications to identify the cause of the cramping. Once the cause is determined, treatment options can be recommended based on your personal situation.
Some treatment options a podiatrist may recommend for foot cramps include:
- Medication such as muscle relaxers
- Custom orthotics to take pressure off areas of the foot that are prone to cramping
- Physical therapy exercises to help stretch muscles of the feet that are not able to relax
Preventing Foot Cramps
Many foot cramps happen suddenly without warning while others may reoccur. Not all foot cramps can be prevented but there are a few things to try that can help reduce your risk of having one happen to your feet such as:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated
- Warm up and cool down before and after taking part in sports or exercise
- Wear shoes that are comfortable and fit properly
- Rest after strenuous activity
- See a podiatrist for any foot-related concerns
Contact Us With Questions
If you are experiencing foot cramps or have questions about pain in your feet or toes, Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry can help. We offer a free initial consultation and can create a customized plan to address your concerns. To set up an appointment, fill out our convenient contact form online or call us at (301) 515-FEET.