A toe sprain is caused by a partial tear of the ligaments that support a toe. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other.
Toe sprains may be caused by:
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Factors that increase your risk of getting a toe sprain include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and how you injured your toe. Your toe will be examined to assess the stability of the joint and the severity of the injury.
Images may need to be taken of your toe. This can be done with:
Toe sprains are graded according to ligament damage. The more ligaments damaged, the more severe the injury.
Some microtearing of ligament tissue
You will need time to heal, but strict rest is rarely necessary. RICE therapy is often advised:
Consider wearing a shoe with a stiff sole to help protect the injured toe.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and over-the-counter pain medications may be advised.
Topical pain medications, such as creams, patches, can also be applied to the skin.
Often, toe sprains cannot be prevented. However, to reduce your risk of getting a sprained toe, wear stiff-soled athletic shoes when playing sports.
Proper treatment of toe sprains can help prevent long-term complications or problems with the toe joint, such as misalignment and immobility.
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
British Columbia Association of Podiatrists
Canadian Podiatric Medical Association
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Mullen JE. O'Malley MJ. Sprains—residual instability of subtalar, Lisfranc joints, and turf toe. Clinics in Sports Medicine. 2004;23(1):97-121.
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Sports injuries. National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sports_Injuries/default.asp. Published November 2013. Accessed May 11, 2016.
10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
Last reviewed May 2016 by Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM