Dislocated Toe

Dislocated or fractured toes usually occur from direct trauma. The toe displaces and/or fractures with possible deformity.


Medically reviewed by Dr Chaminda Goonetilleke, 20th Jan. 2022

Dislocated Toe

Signs and symptoms of a dislocated toe include:

  • Immediate intense toe pain at the time of injury.
  • The toe will be extremely painful when attempting to bend the toe.
  • A visible deformity may be obvious but this is not always the case.
  • Swelling, bruising, tenderness or numbness may also be present.

Some people are more prone to dislocations due to lax ligaments or malformed joint sockets. Dislocated toes are very painful. You should seek medical assistance immediately. Never attempt to reduce or pop the toe back into place yourself.

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Apply the principles of R.I.C.E.(rest, ice, compression, elevation) until medical attention can be sought.

Try to see a doctor within 6 hours to ensure proper healing. The doctor will manipulate the toe back into place and may buddy-strap the toe (to the one next to it) to ensure that it heals correctly.

An X-ray may be taken before treating the dislocation to ensure there are no other complications.

After the reduction (manipulation to put the joint back in place), a period of care should take place which might include strapping, ice and heat, whirlpool treatments, and strengthening exercises.

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Toe fractures

Broken toes can be painful and usually occur as a result of severe impact or trauma to one of the phalanges bones which make up the toes. However, it is possible that a stress fracture can occur gradually over time. The big toe and the little toe are the most commonly fractured as they are the most exposed, and rest is the key method of recovery.

Symptoms of a toe fracture include pain which is felt instantly at the time of injury. The toe may swell up quickly and bruising may appear if there is associated soft tissue injury. In severe fractures which have become displaced the toe may look deformed. Often with fractures of the smaller toes, the patient is not aware that they have a fracture.

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