Everything You Need to Know About a Dislocated Toe

Did you recently start feeling a lot of pain after an intense football match you played in? You must be wondering what has happened to your foot?

No need to worry anymore! It is usually a case of joint dislocation, which is extremely painful and takes a long time to heal.

Studies show that almost 70% people have a dislocated joint after a severe fall or slip. Today, we are going to talk specifically about dislocated toes, which accounts for 32% of all the emergency dislocation cases in hospitals for the past few years.

So, let’s start!

What is Toe Dislocation?

What is Toe Dislocation?

Toe dislocation occurs due to a direct impact of any object on the foot, and results in a severe sprain to the damaged hallux.

It is different from usual sprains, as the bone or joint is abnormally separated from its other counterpart, thus an intense pain can be felt by the victim if he/she tries to bend or move the hallux.

However, it is not limited to the big toe. The dislocation can also occur in the pinky toe, which is generally more painful due to its use when walking.

It can also cause damage to other surrounding elements, including ligaments, muscles and nerves, so extreme caution should be used after the injury occurs.

How Does a Toe Dislocation Occur?

There are a number of causes due to which a person can get a dislocated toe, but the most common reasons are stated below:

  • The most common cause for a toe dislocation is the trauma occurred when an individual falls on a specific direction on a joint. It results in a great amount of weight displaced on the joint, which can cause the bones to be detached from one another.
  • It can also occur if the victim has the Hypermobility Syndrome’. It is a syndrome in which the joints are loose and can stretch further that normal ones. It is also called double jointedness and is very rare. The reason why the toe can be dislocated easily in this syndrome is because the joints are very unstable and can easily be displaced.
  • It can also occur to people who previously had a joint or toe dislocation, as the ligaments of the joint previously dislocated are stretched or loosened with every dislocation, which gives the joint the ability to get dislocated even more easily in the future.

How Can You Identify a Toe Dislocation?

Identify a Toe Dislocation?

There are number of symptoms which come forth one after the other after the dislocation occurs. Some of the symptoms below can help you confirm whether you have a case of dislocation or not:

  • Intense pain is observed immediately after a toe dislocation, and random spikes of pain are also felt due to the muscles being slowly teared.
  • Deformity can be seen with the naked eye easily after the victim is injured. It is not always the case of toe dislocation though as sprains and broken toes can also look visibly deformed.
  • The affected area can be swelled and bruised. Numbness is also an observed symptom after the dislocation.
  • If you experience difficulty walking and feel less strength in the muscles of the toe, it can also indicate a case of a toe out of its joint.

How to Fix a Dislocated Toe

The treatment falls into two categories, which are namely, home remedies and medical treatments. They are both equally efficient for a dislocated toe, but the home remedies should be practiced only if you are experienced in the field.

Be cautious if you don’t know how and immediately consult a doctor. Back to the topic, let’s look at them both in detail:

Home Remedies

If you are planning to treat the patient at your house, the quicker you do it, the better it will be.

If more than 6 hours have passed since treatment, do not attempt to relocate the toe! It will cause more pain and can damage the muscles and ligaments even more than they are.

If you can see an obvious warp on the toe, you can snap it back to place. To do so, simply hold the toe away from the dislocated part and pull it back in the opposite direction. This action is extremely painful for the bearer, so be sure to do it quickly and efficiently.

After you fix the dislocation, the toe can again get detached from the counterpart, so use a thin cloth or cotton and buddy tape the toe. Buddy taping means fixing the injured toe together with its neighbor toe.

After doing the taping, use the R. I. C. E. technique to minimize the healing time and to keep the toe from dislocating again. It is recommended by famous podiatrists and medical professionals and is regarded as one of the most efficient techniques for toe dislocations.

Let’s look at each part of the R. I. C. E. technique.


The best way to avoid any pain after the relocation is rest. Any movement which involves the feet should not be performed and one should try to spend all their time on their bed as weight lifting and walking can put stress on your toe, which will result in pain and harm to the toe, and can even sustain an injury on the whole foot.


Using ice is a great way to make the injury heal faster as cold temperatures increase the healing capabilities of the human body. Get an ice pack from the medical store or the market, and put it on the dislocated area very gently. The icepack should not come in direct contact with the skin, so shield the dislocated area with a thin cloth or some cotton. The icepack should be used every twenty minutes after every two to three hours to reduce swelling and inflammation in the area.


This step is also beneficial, but isn’t necessary and shouldn’t be practiced on those who have a severe amount of swelling. Use a band aid and carefully wrap it around the swollen part. This will be a little painful at first but will greatly decrease the time required for the injury to fully heal. But keep in mind that one should not compress the swollen area for a long time, as it can halt the process of healing due to blockage of blood in the vessels when pressure is applied.


You can lift your toes up a little bit if the dislocation is bugging you. It will not only provide relief, but will also reduce swelling and allows the heart to pump more blood to the elevated part. It can be done whenever you want and as many times as you want.

However, if no positive outcome is observed from the above practices, you should take the patient to the doctor for advanced assistance. Do not delay as the injury can get worse with the passing of time.

Medical Treatment

If more than 6 hours have passed since the injury had occurred, visiting the doctor or the podiatrist is the best thing to do.

Why? The doctor can carry out a full analysis of the condition, and can perform better treatment based on the condition of the patient. He may give you some scan names to perform, preferably X-Ray or MRI, to further determine the condition on a better scale.

After your appointment with the doctor, you must give the patient the prescribed medication on time and perform the R. I. C. E. technique discussed above. After seven days, toe recovery exercises and using the foot again is allowed, but exercise caution as any wrong or athletic movement can result in the dislocation of the toe again.

How to Prevent Toe Dislocations

It is highly likely that toe dislocations can happen again, as the previous injury damages the muscles and surrounding nerves. This increases the chance of the dislocation of the same toe again and again, so follow the precautions to make sure it doesn’t happen again:

  • Keep performing toe rehabilitation exercises for a few months so that your muscles can fully recover. The exercises push the muscles to their limits, which increases their durability and resistance to further injuries.
  • After the healing process finishes, don’t start jumping around like you used to. Start out gently by moving you toe slowly, and don’t use a lot of pressure while you’re walking.
  • When playing any sport which involves the toe, use extreme caution and try not to use the previously affected foot and if you have to, use it gently.
  • You can use thick and fit shoes so that your foot has the least amount of ability to slide and injure the toes inside. Minimalist shoes are the best for sports, as they are tight and allow full flexibility at the same time without posing a threat to the injured foot or toe.

Toe dislocations are very painful and annoying to deal with, but with the right strategy and medication, you can allow it to heal quickly. Remember; Take care not only of your toes, but your whole body, as you can’t another one again.

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