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Dislocated Toe

(Toe dislocation)

How to Say It: dis-loh-keyted toh

Definition

A dislocated toe is when a bone in the toe joint moves out of its normal place.

Toe Bones
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Causes

This injury is caused by trauma from:

  • A force that jams the end of the toe
  • Forcefully twisting or bending the toe
  • Forcefully bending the toe backwards

Risk Factors

Playing contact sports may raise the risk of this problem.

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • Pain
  • Swelling and bruising
  • A change in the way the toe looks
  • Problems moving the toe

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the foot.

Images of the foot may be needed. This can be done with x-rays.

Treatment

It may take up to 8 weeks to recover. It depends on which toe was injured and how severe it was. The goals of treatment are to put the bones of the toe back into place and to promote healing.

The bones can be put back in place:

  • Without surgery—anesthesia will be used to decrease pain while the doctor puts the bones back into place
  • With surgery (rare)—an incision will be made to put the bones back into place and to repair any damaged ligaments

Other treatment may include:

  • Medicines to ease pain and swelling
  • Home care, such as applying ice packs and keeping the foot raised
  • Providing support, such as taping the toe to a nearby healthy toe or wearing a splint, cast, walking boot, or using crutches for more severe injuries
  • Physical therapy to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion

Prevention

This injury is due to an accident. These are hard to prevent.

RESOURCES:

Foot Health Facts—American College Foot and Ankle Surgeons
https://www.foothealthfacts.org

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
https://orthoinfo.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine
https://casem-acmse.org

When it Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
https://whenithurtstomove.org

REFERENCES:

Digit dislocation and reduction. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/digit-dislocation-and-reduction. Accessed February 18, 2021.

Dislocation. University of Minnesota medical Center website. Available at: https://www.mhealth.org/care/conditions/dislocation. Accessed February 18, 2021.

Miller EA, Friedrich JB. Management of Finger Joint Dislocation and Fracture-Dislocations in Athletes. Clin Sports Med. 2020 Apr;39(2):423-442.

Overview of dislocations. The Merck Manual Professional Edition website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/dislocations/overview-of-dislocations. Accessed February 18, 2021.

Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT  Last Updated: 2/18/2021