Toe cramps when tapering from predisone??

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Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 49
   Posted 1/9/2008 7:37 PM (GMT -6)   
Just curious... has anyone experienced this side effect when tapering from predisone? I am not currently on pred, but when I was, and I was tapering, I had such a strange side effect. At night I would wake up with terrible twisted, painful, toe cramps! It would wake me up at night, and scare me half to death it hurt so bad. I ended up having to taper 1/4 of a pill every few days to lessen the cramping. I had never before experienced this in my 15 years of off and on predisone. And it only happened at night.. never during the day. Just curious if anyone else has experienced this.
30 yr old female, Columbus Ohio
Diagnosed with UC at age 14.
Colazel, Remicade ever 8 weeks, folic acid, multi vitamin, calcium, rowasa

Been in remission for about 3 years since starting Remicade. 

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 3238
   Posted 1/9/2008 7:42 PM (GMT -6)   
I had calf cramps when I was on pred! Awful. And only in the middle of the night too!
Tabitha (Tab)

100mg Azathioprine, 2 Fibercon, Colazal-9 a day, Acidopholis Pearls, Nexium
Co-Moderator UC Forum

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 354
   Posted 1/9/2008 8:02 PM (GMT -6)   
I have toe cramps on it also - I have them every once in a while anyway but I have had them alot since I have been on the predisone. I read something about it being important to eat alot of potassuim and decrease sodium while on the predisone and I have heard that potassuim can keep you from having muscle cramps(like eating bannanes) I suspect this might be why...
Jessica 26/F
Asacol 3pills /three times a day(from 2 pills/ three times a day)
Prednisone 40Mg/day taper every 5 days
Culturelle once daily/ three times a day
Tried (Entorcort EC 9ml/day)

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 28
   Posted 1/9/2008 10:30 PM (GMT -6)   
not experiencing the cramping this time but the hair on my legs has stopped growing, shaving once a week as opposed to every day....not complaining about that just mentioning it is odd since I used to get crazy hair growth when on pred...must be the post 40 hormones interacting with the drug in a different way

DXed with left sided UC in 1983 at 20 years of age
-Used prednisone for long periods in the early years (1983-1992) which resulted in severe osteoporosis
-remission through two pregnancies 1993/94 and 1996/97 no meds taken other than prenatal vitamins
-flare in 2000 didn't respond to methasalazane supps or enemas tried methatrexate; mostly in remission for 7 years
-July 2007 new flare with additional never before seen symptoms.....hormone related?, not responding to meds

Elite Member

Date Joined Mar 2003
Total Posts : 10407
   Posted 1/9/2008 10:38 PM (GMT -6)   
I had horrible foot and calf cramps when I was on Pred. I used to have to get up and walk around to keep my toes from curling under and my feet from pointing painfully down. It's part of the package with Pred, I think. Sometimes getting some extra potassium in my diet seemed to help, other times no.
Moderate to severe left-sided UC (21 cm) diagnosed 2001.
Intolerant to Asacol and rectal mesalamine preparations.
On Prednisone then Entocort 2001-2006 with only short periods off. 
Current meds are Colazal, Azathioprine Remicade, Nature's Way Primadophilus Reuteri.
In remission since April, 2006. Remicade has been my wonder drug.

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 320
   Posted 1/10/2008 2:18 AM (GMT -6)   
I had the horrible calf cramps while on pred and also got it worse, but more in the feet when I was tapering from 40mg down to 30.

I found that drinking a gatorade/powerade sports drink before bed seemed to help. My theory was that my sodium and potassium levels were out of wack.
"We are dreamers, shapers, singers and makers..." - Elric, elder Technomage
    - 2xColazide, twice a day; 1x6-mp twice a day; 1xAbatacept 10mg/kg per month;
    - 1xZinc per day, 2xScoop of Sustagen Sport per day;
    - 1xBIOCeuticals UltraBiotic 45 per day, 1xBIOCeuticals SB FlorActiv per day;
    - 1xHeaped teaspoon of Metamucil smooth orange powder 3 times a day.

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 486
   Posted 1/10/2008 4:29 AM (GMT -6)   
The potassium theories sounds exactly right on the money to me.

Also, quinine helps eliminate night time cramps. I used to drink tonic water, but you can also get quinine pills.
UC for the last ten years
Current Meds: 6MP
Past Meds: You name it; I've tried it.

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2004
Total Posts : 23551
   Posted 1/10/2008 6:45 AM (GMT -6)   
I wasn't on pred but steroid enemas for a long time and I would have to say YES YES YES about the toe cramps! Oh my did they hurt! One time I was roller skating with my daughter and my toes decided to do their little wacky split curl thingy and I about feel on my face! I couldn't get those skates off fast enough.
Moderator for Allergies/Asthma and Co-moderator for UC
~Left sided Uc -'92 - Colazal (9 daily), 6mp (50-100mgs), Colocort, Prilosec, Biotin, Forvia, Pro-Bio**Unable to tolerate Asacol, Rowasa or Canasa** ~Allergies - Allegra & Singulair
~Secondary Reynauds Syndrome - '04 - Norvasc~Fibromyalgia - '06~No meds
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"The quality of my life depends on the quality of my thoughts."


Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 733
   Posted 1/10/2008 9:40 AM (GMT -6)   
Now that you mention it, yes. A few days ago, one toe on my foot was cramping up. It didn't last long so I didn't give it a second thought but yeah at the same time I was tapering the Prednisone, weird.
Diagnosed with Left-sided Ulcerative Colitis 1995 at 15
Tried: Prednisone, Rowasa & Hydrocortisone Enemas, Proctofoam, Sulfasalazine, Asacol, Probiotics, Fish Oil, Canasa, Enotcort, Colazol, Proctocort, Anamantle, etc...
Diagnosed with Ulcerative Proctitis with almost rectovaginal fistula in 2004, put on Remicade, August 2007:Increased Remicade dosage-700mg every 6 weeks,diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis & Fibromyalgia Current meds: Remicade 700mgs every 6 wks (had reaction, will start Humira Jan 29) Clorazepate, Proctofoam HC, Glucosamine 500, Vitamin B, Lomotil as needed, Darvocet, Tylenol pm

Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2007
Total Posts : 100
   Posted 1/10/2008 10:31 AM (GMT -6)   
I'm with Judilyn on this one...I had horrible calf and foot cramps...Not only would they wake me up in the middle of the night once, but sometimes three times...It drove me crazy!!! I noticed every once in a while, if I stretched the wrong way, I would get them in my foot in the daytime, but that wasn't very often...Mostly at night!!!
28 Yrs old
Dx UC 3/07
4 Asacol 3x/day (when I remember to take them)
5mg Prednisone
Remicade (only had three infusions)
Fish Oil supplements

Veteran Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 648
   Posted 1/10/2008 11:09 AM (GMT -6)   
One word: Bananas.

If you don't like them, get yourself some potassium (and magnesium) supplements.

When I am low on potassium, I can, for example, extend my toe or stand on my tip toes for something and my calf muscle will just go into a knot and not release. I've had the arch of the foot cramps, too. Usually a banana eases that really rapidly.

Good luck!

Sporadic proctitis since about 1985. Mother had J-pouch surgery 1983.
DX'd with clostridium difficile in 2000. Pred, two courses of Flagyl, then Vancomycin finally got rid of it. 2001 colonoscopy dx'd left-sided UC. . Treated with prednisone, Rowasa, Asacol. Asacol not working, switched to Imuran. Three small flares since in 2002, 2005, and 2007, brought under control with steroid and Rowasa enemas. Lap Chole performed October 26, 2007, after gall bladder attack in June, '07.
Daily meds: 100 mg Azathioprine and 225 mg Effexor XR (for chronic, longstanding depression), many vitamins and Primadophilus Reuteri

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2007
Total Posts : 2148
   Posted 1/10/2008 11:45 AM (GMT -6)   
i've always had toe cramps now and then, my middle toe always get's stuck.........I do wonder why

while on the pred, in addition to more frequent toe cramps, I get arch cramps, calf cramps, shin cramps, and cramps inside my thighs. I think my potassium was low anyway.

I am tired of banana's so I drink Langer's cran/rasp juice it has 480mg of potassium per serving (more than a banana) and also take potassium suppliments. It definitely helps!
Beth, 32
Major Flare Sept/Oct 07 ~ working on remission almost there
UC Diagnosed March 2000 (30 cenitmeters)
Azathioprine 200mg 1xday nightly; Calcium and Vit D 500mg 3xday, Multi Vit, Folic Acid 400mg 2xday, Probiotics.
Minimal Change Disease (Kidney Disorder) Diagnosed Sept 2007
Prednisone 60/40mg alt days 1xday, Simvastatin 20mg 1xday, Diovan 160mg 2xday. Potassium 600mg 2xday, Fosomax 70mg 1xweek. MCD may be from hypersensitivty to 5ASA drugs.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 1396
   Posted 1/10/2008 1:55 PM (GMT -6)   
I get alwful big toe cramps so much so I can't walk at times. Hurts like hell. I am not taking any prednisone. I was told part of the joint pain with ulcerative colitis.

Current meds are:
Asacol 6 pills a day
Lexapro 20 mg once a day
Ativan .5 mg when needed

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