Toe Cramps and Back Pain? My Mother’s Story

How do toe cramps connect to back pain? Most patients with toe cramps believe that they have some sort of nutritional problem, despite many of them actually having a low back issue. In these cases, small amounts of nerve irritation in the low back can cause the muscles in the toe to cramp. This is where my mother enters the story. I spoke to her yesterday and she told me, “I need to get my story on that computer”. At first I really had no idea what she was talking about, but then I realized she meant her low back pain and cramp story. The “computer” was my blog.

A few years ago my mother was in a car crash. She had chronic back pain and headaches after the crash, but over the ensuing year or so she developed severe toe cramps at night. They were so severe and painful that they would wake her up for hours at a time. Her GP placed her on Quinine, which did little. Knowing her history and having examined her, I told her they were likely from a pinched S1 nerve in her back. She had a hard time conceptualizing how anything in her back could cause her toes to cramp and felt he she had some foot problem. For more than a year I used about 20 different explanations to help her understand that the S1 nerve in the back supplies nerve power to most of the toe muscles. When that nerve is irritated due to a disc bulge or something else, the muscles in the feet can cramp. Regrettably, being 85, she would forget most of our conversations. She finally decided to listen to me and I performed the Regenexx-PL-Disc procedure on her L5-S1 level in her back. This was about 6 months ago. Despite having disabling foot cramps for about 2 years with nothing providing help, she hasn’t had a single foot cramp since. The procedure likely reduced swelling around the S1 nerve and improved blood supply, allowing it not to be irritated and getting rid of the toe cramps.

The upshot? Mom, here’s your blog post on the “computer”! Many patients with chronic toe cramps at night never get the correct diagnosis that their back is responsible for their toe pain. Hopefully this blog post helps those patients!

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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NOTE: This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.