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Involuntary curling of toes

by Marie S.
(Houston, Texas)

From time to time, my 3rd, 4th, and 5th toes will curl under without my control, almost as if trying to make a fist. It is painful like a cramp and I have to remove my shoe and massage the area vigorously to get it to loosen. Is this consistent with hammertoes?


Hi Marie,

No, this is not consistent with hammertoes. Some hammertoes are so deformed that they will curl, but it is a constant curl.
To me, it sounds like you are experiencing night cramps even though you do not mention when this happens. Read my section on night cramps and see if this does not sound like your problem.
Good luck.
Marc Mitnick DPM

Comments for Involuntary curling of toes

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Feb 18, 2016
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toes spasms
by: Anonymous

It has taken me years to realize that the worsening of my bunions is causing my other toes to have spasms. It is not the same as night cramps. When you have your great toe pressing against the others all day long and walking in that fashion it will throw the other toes out of alignment along with the muscles and ligaments. It is now also causing ankle and shin pain in my right leg. I wear the bunion cushions and without them I have terrible pain and spasms. I believe its time for surgery and wondering how long it will put me out of driving.

Sep 09, 2015
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try eating less sugar
by: Linda

Besides the regiment I suggested taking each evening below, I suggest eating less sugar. If I have had a lot of sugar in one day, I will have the involuntary curling of my toes regardless. Without much sugar, the regiment below keeps them from curling at night.

Sep 08, 2015
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toe curls and cramps
by: mLinda

my feet have been like this since I was a child of 4and 5 my mom would walk me across the floor I would like to know what causes it I have not given any answers

Jul 24, 2015
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feet numbness and toe curling
by: MJC

I am a 67 year old male who developed numbness in my feet over the past several years. I've been to a neurologist who ran tests and said there was really nothing they could do about it. I tried b complex doesn't seem to help. But just recently noticed sitting in my recliner barefooted involuntary flickering and curling of my second fourth and fifth toe on my right foot. Less movement on my left,happens so slowly and without feeling the movement, wouldn't have noticed it if I wasn't looking fo it.

Apr 29, 2015
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toes curl down especially with shoes on
by: Anonymous

For 3 yrs now my toes on one foot curl down. It's not a cramp, but if I don't get them back up it starts to cramp. A lot worse with shoes on. Toes press the ground hard. But I can sort of walk if I go real slow and concentrate on relaxing my foot to get my toes up. Doctors have no clue.

Apr 28, 2015
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my solution
by: Linda

Try Calcium, 600mg (with Magnesium 250mg), D3 (400iu) & B6 (50mg) in the evenings with a good amount of water and keeping your toes warm. If I forget the regiment one night, I have issues again. But keeping up with it keeps me pretty much from having issues, unless my feet get too cold.

Apr 27, 2015
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curling and tingling toes
by: Anonymous

My podiatrist said to take Vitamin B complex and see a Neurologist.
The Neuro said try taking gabapentin, 3 a day for months
Neither has helped.

It seems to be a pinched nerve, feels worse when I lay down or try to cross legs.

Surgeon said I don't need back surgery, try a spinal block

Mar 25, 2015
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4th toe curling while walking
by: Johanne

This only happens when I walk with shoes...If I am bare feet, no issues...

Mar 04, 2015
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foot problem
by: alex

After walking for 30m my toes begin to tingle then the big toe starts to point upwards while the others curl back while pressing down hard onto the inside sole of the shoe after a couple of strides the foot turns and then I am walking on the outside of the foot.After 5min rest I can carry on for a bit then the problem repeats itself.The rest is required because walking on the outside of the foot is too painful

Mar 11, 2014
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solution found for me
by: LJ

I have less and less of the curling toes issue if I take calcium, D3, and B6 about a hour before I go to bed each night since most of my toe curling happens shortly after I lye down to sleep or while I am sleeping. If I neglect to take these one or two nights, the toe curling returns full force.

Mar 11, 2014
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me too but
by: Anonymous

I have been getting them for years simply it seems by certain movements when I am sitting or lying down. They go away after I stand up and put my foot down flat a step up and down. They went away for a while, I don't know why. I remember thinking that I have not gotten them in a while and it was not long before they returned.

Mar 12, 2012
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Soap is the answer
by: Anonymous

I don't know why but I occassionally get painful cramps in my feet curling my toes and sometimes running up my leg. It happens at night usually when I just go to bed or after I have fallen asleep abruptly waking me. I have small pieces of soap available which I put in a ped on each foot and I am good for the rest of the night. Many friends of mine keep soap in their beds under the sheet and swear this will prevent leg and foot cramps altogether. I prefer to address the problem as it presents as the big bar of soap seems to move around and I cannot find it when I need it. Sounds crazy, but it works! BTW you have to do something, the pain is intolerale.

Oct 06, 2011
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Me too
by: LJ

The involuntary curling of my toes occurs sometimes at night, but also sometimes while I am sitting up or standing - not after exercise. I work extensively in my yard on the weekends and sit all day during the week at my place of work. I do not have the problem immediately after either. It's usually when I am relaxed. Could it possibly be attributed to dehydration or not enough potassium or sodium?

Jun 28, 2011
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Toe curls after exercise!
by: Ben

this happens to me too and 100% of the time it is following intense exertion from some other part of the body, say situps or shoveling alot of sand. Every workout is not followed by my toes curling, but it only happens after this intense kind of exertion. Once it happened so bad that my 4th toe turned black and blue from me involuntarily stepping on it.

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