Sprained Toe Overview

Sprained Toe: Brief | Causes | Symptoms | Home Treatment | Medical Treatment | Summary

Sprained Toe in Brief



A sprained toe is much less minor than a broken toe. The following information will help you define the sprained toe symptoms and treatment methods as well as how to make sure you don’t have a dislocated toe and how to prevent any sprained toe complications from arising. Treating a sprained toe means first knowing which toe is sprained and how the injury was caused.

Toe sprains are often caused by jamming your toe into something. This can occur from landing awkwardly after jumping, stopping suddenly and having your toe collide with the front of your shoe or simply stubbing your toe into something hard while walking. If you’re involved in vigorous activities such as soccer, basketball, or dancing your chances of spraining your toe increase, especially if the sport is new to you. Climbing, hiking and other outdoor pursuits over rough terrain can also contribute to a sprained toe.

Although home treatment for a sprained toe is generally effective, seeing a doctor can help to ensure that you are taking the right actions when healing the toe. Checking to see if the toe is broken can help make your next move easier. Sprained toe symptoms are often similar to broken toe symptoms including toe pain as well as swelling, bruising, discoloration and limited movement. Most sprained toes can be treated at home but its wise to make sure the toe is sprained before taking any definitive action.

 

Sprained Toe Causes

As previously mentioned sprained toes can come from a variety of activities from a simple stubbing to energetic outdoor activities. The severity of the sprain can reflect the type of activity one has been participating in. Toe sprains are common among athletes involved in rugby, track, hockey and soccer as players often stop and start quickly putting high amounts of pressure on the toe.

Sprains can occur from sudden movement or too much pressure on one part of the toe which pushes the toe out of its natural position. Limiting unnecessary stopping and starting in movement and ensuring that weight is distributed evenly over the foot is key for preventing toe sprains. Walking barefoot over uneven terrain can often lead to sprained toes. If you like walking barefoot, minimalist shoes can help you achieve the same feeling yet protect your toes from strains.


Sprained Toe Symptoms

The symptoms of a sprained toe are often very straight forward. Pain and tenderness, especially while moving the toe are common. The toe can also appear to be bruised or discoloured. If the toe looks slightly out of place, especially compared to the rest of the toes, it could be sprained but also dislocated or broken.

A sprained toe can often be hard to distinguish initially. Often when a toe is stubbed toe pain occurs and it simply takes time to ‘walk it off’ before a person can resume activity. Toe sprains differ in the fact that the pain will continue to linger in the toe after five minutes and any movement will likely send pain through the entire toe. Any pressure to lean or push off the toe is usually indicative of a sprained toe.

Pain and swelling in the injured toe joint will be the worst for 48 hours following the injury. Most toe sprains heal within a five days but severe toe sprains can last up to ten. There are more severe toe sprains that exist such as turf toe. Turf toe is a caused by acute inflammation of the dorsal and plantar tendons. It is characterized by swelling, redness and a restricted range of motion that can last from weeks to months.

 

How to Treat a Sprained Toe

Sprained Toe Home Treatment



If the sprained toe is minor, treating it at home is usually a viable option however it is smart to seek the guidance of a licensed medical professional before continuing as to prevent any sprained toe complications from arising as well to ensure that the toe is not broken and only sprained. One of the best ways for helping a sprained toe to heal at home is to follow the R.I.C.E. formula.

Rest: If your toe is injured it makes sense to avoid exercise and movement including walking and even standing as these actions can cause toe pain. There will be circumstances where you may be required to move in your day to day activities, but minimizing movement or using crutches can help to alleviate any unnecessary pressure on the sprained toe which leads to a faster recovery.

Ice: Putting ice on the sprained toe area slows inflammation and reduces swelling around the injury. Helping to soothe the inflammation helps to reduce some of the pain in the toe and can speed recovery. Pain is also relieved when the ice numbs the sore toe tissues and reduces reactions that might occur between the nerves in the toe. As the ice is applied, the blood veins contract which reduces circulation to the injured toe area. When the ice is removed the veins overcompensate by widening which leads to a rush of nutrients in the blood being brought to the injured area to help recovery.

An icepack, plastic bag filled with ice or even a bag of frozen peas or corn can be used for this step. One should apply a thin towel between the skin and ice to protect the skin. Icing should then be done for periods of 20 minutes every two to three hours for the first few days following the injury.

Compression: The smaller toes may be hard to apply compression to and this step may be unnecessary. Lightly compressing the big toe (which is the most often injured) can help the toe recover, but don’t overdo it. Although compressing can help limit the swelling, it can also delay healing which is not beneficial for your long term foot health.

Elevation: Elevating the toes is a smarter method to reduce swelling in the injured area. Reducing the blood flow to the toes will help the swelling to decrease and limit the amount of pain you are able to feel. Elevating the foot and toes will give your body time to rest and avoid extra pressure on the injured areas.

Protective shoes that limit toe movement and prevent stubbing can help to minimize the risk of aggravating the toe injury or causing an increase in toe pain. Over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen, naproxen, Tylenol and aspirin can be taken to reduce inflammation and pain while the toe heals.

 

Sprained Toe Medical Treatment

Seeking a toe doctor is always a good idea when you’re unsure about the nature of your injury. If you have never injured your toe, differentiating between a broken toe, sprained toe and dislocated toe is the job of a medical professional. X-rays or in rare cases MRIs can be used to distinguish the nature of the injury.

After reviewing the injury a doctor will ask about the cause and symptoms of the injured toe to be able to diagnose the toe injury. Based on this information the doctor may send you home for home treatment or, in rare cases where necessary, buddy tape the toe to help limit movement and increase healing speed.

After the diagnosis you may be given sprained toe exercises that are designed to increase the flexibility and movement of the toe while enhancing the recovery process to restore the toe to its natural ability. For more serious sprains including turf toe the doctor may prescribe different exercises and/or a longer rest period in order to let the toe recover fully before continuing with activity.

In order to help bring the sprained toe back into normal condition some exercises have been provided to help speed recovery:

Sprained Toe Exercises

Vertical Toe Raise: Placing your hands between two solid positions at waist level as support, carefully lever weight onto the injured foot. Press into the ground the injured toes raising yourself away from the ground until the point of pain. Hold this position for five seconds while supporting yourself with your hands and then slowly release back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 12 times two to three times per day.
Horizontal Toe Press: Press your injured foot against a wall with the tip of toes just touching the wall. Place your injured leg behind you and place your hands on the wall for support. Carefully lever the toes onto the wall and slowly apply pressure downwards stretching your toes until the point of pain. Hold this position for five seconds while supporting yourself with your hands and then slowly release back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 12 times two to three times per day.
Vertical Toe Press: Placing your hands between two solid positions at waist level as support, carefully lever weight onto the injured foot. Curl the toes behind you and press into the ground the injured toes until the point of pain. Hold this position for five seconds while supporting yourself with your hands and then slowly release back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise 12 times two to three times per day.

These exercises should be done with caution and in a gentle manner. They are designed to rehabilitate the muscle back to the toe’s normal state of being, not to add significant strength to the sprained toe. If you have recovered from a sprained toe, it is wise to keep performing these exercises for a week after the injury to increase the range of motion in the toe and prevent a reoccurring injury.


Sprained Toe Summary

Although it is tough to prevent a sprained toe, acting with caution and ensuring no unnecessary strain is placed on the toe can significantly lower the chances of a sprained toe. Sprained toes usually result from overuse and trauma which cab hard to avert but being vigilant and watching for any signs of potential danger can help limit toe injuries in the future.

If you’ve injured your toe in the past try buddy taping the toe before using it again to prevent hyperextension or overuse. Wearing protective shoes and using sprained toe rehabilitation exercises can help speed the recovery of a toe injury.

Remember it’s wise to seek the guidance of a medical professional to know if you have a sprained toe, broken toe or dislocated toe so that the proper course of action can be taken. The symptoms for these injuries can be very similar, distinguishing between the injuries will alter your course of treatment.

Sprained toes, especially turf toe can more debilitating then the names might imply. Exercising caution and smart limitations when resuming normal day activities is important. Making sure to always monitor for warning signs and taking the proper precautions will lead you on a path to full recovery, and that goes for more than just your toes.

64 Responses to Sprained Toe

  • Carly Albiston says:

    Hi, thanks for all of these tips. They’ve been very helpful. I sprained my big toe about 5 weeks ago now and it’s still swollen and I can’t stand on it for long and can only walk in short strides still. I did get it x-rayed and it’s not broken. I’ve only recently started going for short walks out of the house and have mostly been resting and have iced it regularly every day since. The swelling gets worse when I’ve been standing for a bit. When I try the excercies of pushing my injured toe into the floor the big joint of my big toe pushes out to the side. It has improved lots since the initial injury… does this sound normal? Do you think it’s healing properly?
    thanks again for the tips

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Carly,

      The increased swelling when standing is a result of the blood pooling in the feet as it normally would, but with the sprain it is most definitely more noticeable and recognizable. elevating the toe will help to alleviate some of the engorgement and lessen the the swelling sensation. If your big toe flares out to the side, do a comparison to the other foot. If they both are doing the same thing your toes may just do this naturally, if one foot (or big to joint in your case) is behaving differently it may be temporary and will improve in a couple of months, but it also could be longer lasting.

      As you’ve noted the injury has improved significantly since it occurred so it sounds like you’re on the right path. Keep gently working the toe back into its previous condition and see if the sideways movement starts to diminish. If it doesn’t and it continues to bother you, consider seeing a chiropodist or doctor for further investigation, but in many cases the toe recovers fully within four to nine weeks.

      ToeDoc

    • Allison says:

      I recently hurt my big toe while my sister kicked it very hard on accident. I can’t decide what is wrong. It is very purple on the inside and hurts when pressure is applied. What do you think is wrong? And how should I treat it? What do you think? Going to the doctor is just not an option. You are my only hope!

      • Toe Doc says:

        Hi Allison,

        Sounds like a sprained toe to me. In this case rest, ice, compression and elevation are some of the best things you can do. I’d also recommend staying off the toe as much as possible and making sure that when you do use the injured foot you’re not straining the toe in any way to cause pain. If it is a sprain the swelling should subside within a couple of days even if the bruising does remain. As long as the toe does not appear to be out of place you’re likely okay for the time being. After a few days gently test the toe and if it feels better you can start to try some basic rehabilitation movements. If the toe continues to hurt than try buddy wrapping it to the toe nearest and see if that helps until you can seek a doctor’s analysis.

        ToeDoc

  • Serena says:

    Over a week ago, I was running barefoot and my second toe bent down under my foot and I walked on it. The pain was unbearable. The next few days, the toe was swollen with a hard, swollen lump right under the nail. It was also black and blue, but only in the top digit (the one with the toenail.) Once the bruise started to disappear, it traveled down the sides of my toe. Although it looks better, it’s still very painful to the touch and if I try and walk on it for too long. My 4-year old accidentally stepped on it and that was VERY painful. I’m pretty sure it’s not broken. If it was, wouldn’t I know that for sure? I AM able to bend it. The pain is worse when I forcibly pull my toe upwards. Bending it upwards on it’s own isn’t painful. What do you think?

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Serena,

      Sounds like a minor sprain or just a bruised joint. Some smaller tissues or tendons may be still quite tender. You are in the recovery phase so work on keeping the toe movement to a minimum. Being able to bend the toe is a good sign, any forcible pulling will tend to aggravate the joint. Work on some minor rehabilitation movement that stress the toe, but not to the point of pain. The toe should be much better in the next week but likely will still be painful if you engage in any sports or put too much strain in the injured area.

      ToeDoc

  • RJ says:

    Hi, I hurt my toe and i dont know how and i rested it for about 3-4 weeks now and the swelling hasn’t gone down..It hurts by the knuckle of the toe… It only hurts if i hit it….I put a picture below

    http://tinypic.com/m/f4pncx/1

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi RJ,

      The second link worked but it doesn’t look like the swelling is particularly invasive. It looks like the toe is more in recovery mode and still tender. Have you been walking on the toe or using it consistently. If it only hurts when you hit it, it’s likely a case of a recovering sprain. The body is revitalizing the torn tissues in the injured area and the toe will likely be tender for a little longer. If the initial trauma was fairly severe, the recover may be lengthened. For now you’ll likely notice increased sensitivity, but that should pass in a matter of weeks. Just do your best to minimize stress on the toe and foot area.

      ToeDoc

      • RJ says:

        Yes I have been walking on the toe… Because of school and stuff…I have no pain going on my tippy toes and doing calf raises…What should I do as in treatment? I have a professional soccer team I am trying for on the 15th of Jan. and I wanna know if i am able to play

        Here’s an update since last time I wrote here (2 weeks)

        http://i43.tinypic.com/2ldjeir.jpg
        http://i44.tinypic.com/takebl.jpg

        Thanks.

        • RJ says:

          Here is a side view… and yes I know i have ugly feet, I’m a soccer player haha

          http://i43.tinypic.com/tafrd0.jpg

          You can delete this after u see it if u want

        • Toe Doc says:

          Hi RJ,

          Try some lengthening exercises as well as bending the toe to the point of discomfort in it’s regular planes of motion. You gently want to rehabilitate the toe and get it used to normal movements. As a soccer player this means doing gentle toe raises and flexing the toe in multiple directions to get a sense of where your limitations are and when you’re ready to really resume a full athletic endeavor. The toe doesn’t look to swollen or bruised so it’s probably safe to start engaging in soccer practice but don’t press the joints too hard or too fast.

          ToeDoc

          • RJ says:

            Should I do R.I.C.E. after each exercise?

          • Toe Doc says:

            Icing after can definitely help. One of the best things to do is 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off for a couple of hours. Do it during a static activity such as watching a movie. The full R.I.C.E. treatment can be used after each exercise, but don’t be overly concerned if you don’t do it every single time.

            ToeDoc

  • leslie says:

    Hi. I went to get out of bed the other morning and when I went to stand up my left knee gave out and I fell to my knees. When I fell my 3 smaller toes on my left foot curled under and my weight went on those toes. My pinky toe is slightly bruised on the under side. The bruise isn’t very dark. I have a bit of swelling but not much and I am able to bend it. When I bend it I do get a sharp pain. I did this this on Wednesday morning. I do limp when I walk. Could it be sprained or jammed? Or would you think it is broken? Thanks

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Leslie,

      If it’s only been a day, give it a few more with some R.I.C.E. treatment. From your description it sounds like a jam, but you may have some minor tears in there if the toes really extended farther than they should. A slight bruise and pain when bending are normal when the joint is tender. Give the toe(s) three easy days and if they haven’t improved start looking more into the symptoms of a sprained toe.

      ToeDoc

  • Sarah says:

    Hi,

    This page has been quite helpful to me. I accidentally slammed my foot into the top of a step yesterday evening and my big toe has been swollen and painful since then. It’s been hurting a lot less today but the swelling hasn’t gone down very much despite icing and elevation. Walking is difficult and although I can bend the toe it hurts to bend it more than a little bit. The joint is slightly painful to the touch and there is a small bruise on the skin near it. Should I try to bend it a little more to improve the range of motion? It feels pretty stiff even before it gets to the point of pain. Do you have any suggestions to help it heal faster?

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Sarah,

      I’m glad the site has been helpful! In your situation we’d recommend you hold off any rehabilitation-oriented movements until after five or six days. Give the toe sometime with R.I.C.E. treatment to help refresh the nutrient flow to the toe and give it some rest. After this time, gentle bending movements and slowly adding weight to the toe will help to bring it back to it’s original condition. As far as increasing the recovery time, often the best practice is to go easy. Injuries take longer tor recover or can become worse if one is too eager and presses the joint too far resulting in destroying any progress made until that point. Aim to use the toe as little as possible and from there test and add in any exercises provided there’s no serious pain when doing so.

      ToeDoc

  • Josh says:

    I slightly hyper extended my big toe a few days ago, there was some pain but I didn’t notice any swelling and there is no bruising. I iced it immediatly after and just started alternating ice and heat packs. It still hurts a little but I can walk around normally. Pain comes back if I extend the toe and I don’t have full range of motion flexing it. How long until I’m back to normal and can resume sports?

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Josh,

      Every situation is different but judging by your report you should be able to resume sports in about a week. Remember to go cautiously at first as re-injury can easily occur. If you play a full contact sport it may be safer to wait a week and a half. Keep minimal stress on the toe except for minor stretching exercises. This will help aid in in a timely recovery and make sure your feet are ready to take on some action.

      ToeDoc

  • Julie Stahle says:

    My daughter hit her toe into the wall 9 days ago. We thought it was just jammed or sprained, however, it looks to be slightly off to the side. I have had it buddy taped to the toe next to it but when I take off the wrap it goes back out of place. Does that mean it is dislocated? Should we attempt to move it back? She has been able to move it more and walk more on it since the accident but is still in pain. We used the R.I.C.E. formula from the beginning. Where do we go from here?

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Julie,

      In this case the obvious symptoms point to a severe sprain or dislocation but you’d be better suited seeing a podiatrist for analysis. If you keep removing the buddy tape, the joint doesn’t have time to heal in place. Leave the buddy wrap in place for the next couple of weeks and see what happens. The best course of action would be to see a foot doctor, but short of that, time is the most important element. If the toe is sprained then it may need longer then nine days to recover.

      ToeDoc

  • Louise says:

    Hello Toedoc!
    Yesterday I was running up stairs and I tripped, my toes hit the stairs and then bent while I fell on the stairs. It has been very painful and swollen since, I can’t move my big toe at all and it hurts even when I’m not moving it. It’s very swollen and I can’t walk on it at all. What can I do to speed up the recovery process? Is it most likely broken or sprained? And do I need to see a doctor or can I just leave it to heal?

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Louise,

      Could be a sprain or break depending on the severity of the bend. The event your describing can easily break a toe when there’s enough force behind it. Try this broken toe vs sprained toe page. If the swelling doesn’t go down in the next 24 hours and you still can’t walk on the toe at all it’s likely broken and it’s time to see a doctor to get the toe looked at. For the time being apply R.I.C.E. treatment and if the toe is noticeably out of shape see a doctor as soon as possible.

      ToeDoc

  • Andrew says:

    I injured my 66 year old right index toe by forcing on shoes, slightly tight non tie shoes, that did not have an interior sock lining causing friction when putting the shoe on. I did not notice the injury till 1 or 2 days later. My toe was swollen with pain at the joint. About 2 months later and I am still feeling discomfort from the joint of the toe extending back to the ball of that toe.

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Andrew,

      It’s possible you’ve really aggravated some tissues and haven’t given them a chance to fully recover. At the same time your age could play a role in recovery time and tenderness. As we get older our body’s ability to heal itself starts to diminish. If the injury strained or stretched the tissues out then a sprain or stress fracture may have occurred. I’d recommend visiting a podiatrist to make sure you know what’s going on. The doctor may recommend a toe cast or buddy wrapping to help minimize pressure on the sore joint.

      ToeDoc

  • Jim says:

    About 15 years ago I injured my foot running. It went from a feeling of tight arches to one of a rock in my shoe. I quit running/sports after it recovered a bit, because it would start having that “rock in my shoe” soreness under the balls of my middle toes, which would last for weeks. I saw a foot surgeon several years ago, and she said classic mtp overload, but she was in and out in 5 minutes. It sounded like that was basically a sprained toe. Is there anything I can do to improve it? I haven’t found much online about mtp overload, nor did I get much indication of how torn is partially torn ligament. Recently I’ve had a slight burning sensation when using too much, but do want to start getting in better shape again. It didn’t sound like surgery to fix it was a good idea, but I wanted to ask what options I should consider for improvement and if you know of much online information. I’ve recently considered trying the minimalist shoes to slowly strengthen my feet, but I’m not sure that’s a good idea given previous ligament damage. Several years ago, I was given an incline board to stand on, a sling to sleep in that bent those middle toes back under my foot, and some foam sticky pads to apply to my current insoles to fill in my arches more. Any comments or additional information would be appreciated.

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Jim,

      Although this is outside the typical toe injury I think your solution for trying barefoot shoes is a good one. Whatever you do, start slow and ease on the toe gradually. Long term runners and athletes face a myriad of injuries from use and every injury is slightly different depending on the runner’s history. The most common problem is that one area of the toe, foot or leg is doing more work than the other thus causing imbalances, overuse and stress injuries. There’s a great selection of minimalist running shoes available online that we’d recommend trying. These shoes allow for toe movement and help you to use your feet the way they were meant to which can alleviate much of the strain on certain parts of the foot. Again, the best thing to do would be do go slowly with any endeavor and stop at the first sign of discomfort to figure out exactly what the problem is and what you can do to prevent any future pain.

      ToeDoc

  • KJ says:

    Good day~

    I injured my middle toe on the R foot Friday evening. I was wearing shoes and walking across the floor when it felt as if my sock got wedged under the toe. There was discomfort but not actual pain. I went to bed and the next morning the toe was swollen and sore to the touch. I put on tennis shoes; which made it feel worse.
    Saturday evening while going upstairs to bed, there was a pop that occurred and the pain became intense. The next morning, the inside of the toe (towards the big toe) was bruised. I am unable to walk on the foot (having to move on my heel) to get anywhere. The toe is still swollen as well and appears to be tilted slightly towards the big toe.

    I have been icing & elevating the foot to keep the pressure off as well as taking Advil.

    Do you have any idea what this could be, sprain or dislocation as well as what I should do?

    Thanks for any help or suggestions…

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi KJ,

      The symptoms you’ve described sound somewhere between a sprain and a dislocation. In this case icing and resting the toe is a good idea. Make sure the tilting of the toe is not just a side effect from the swelling. You don’t want to try and reset a sprained toe as that will just cause more pain in the injury. If the pain continues past three or four days and shows no signs of improvement try buddy taping the toe if it doesn’t cause too much discomfort. If this still doesn’t help and you find the toe in great pain see a local podiatrist or doctor for steps on what to do next.

      ToeDoc

  • Amanda says:

    A year ago I injured my big toe, I believe it was overextended upwardly, an awkward moment at least, who hurts themselves going upstairs? I had thought maybe it was broken, but as I don’t have insurance, just waited it out. It was swollen for days and took maybe 6 weeks for it to feel alright on a regular basis. The big toe pops now, which it never used to and can be pushed outward more easily than my uninjured toe. Every once in awhile when barefoot or in my minimalist shoes, I land funny and it seems as though it is twisting outwardly, the pain is excruciating and it is again sore for a few days. Obviously something was injured and didn’t heal right, but would you think I could potentially do anything about it now? And if not, is this constant reinjuring going to cause worse problems down the road (athritis, etc.)?

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Amanda,

      It sounds like the toe didn’t heal correctly after the initial injury. Since it happened a year ago it may require some attention and long term rehabilitation, hopefully not a re-break. If the ligaments or tendons are permanently stretched or damaged then the road to a pain free foot may be a bit longer as the toe needs to reset in place. If you still don’t want to go to a doctor you can try loosely buddy wrapping the toe to prevent excess movement or twisting and avoid activities that are more likely to aggravate the toe.

      Constant re-injury can have some very detrimental long term effects so if this is a problem and it worries you, seeking medical attention is important. Seek medical attention if there’s still side effects and symptoms.

      ToeDoc

  • Carla says:

    3 weeks and 2 days ago I jammed my middle toe of my right foot very badly on a chair leg in the night when I got up. I have had xrays done and there is no apparent fracture. There has been very bad bruising on my middle toe, the 2nd toe and nearly halfway down my foot. I hyper-extended the toe pretty bad. After all this time there is still bruising and pain. I can walk and move the toe, but it feels almost like the toe is not connected when I walk. I can flex the toe down, but it is very painful still to go up on my toes. If there is a torn ligament what can be done? I’m not sure if I should do anything special to help in healing–and after 3 weeks I am concerned that complete healing may not take place. The bruising is can still be seen on the top of my foot and on that toe and the 2nd toe even now. The top of my foot hurts when touched beneath the toes. Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Carla,

      Sounds like you did some pretty serious damage to your toe, you may want to spend some time icing it and making sure you use it as little as possible. Despite no fracture, your doctor still should have given you instructions in order for you to help heal the toe most effectively. Gently massaging, not to the point of pain and working to rehabilitate the toe can help bring more circulation into the injured area.

      If there’s no improvement see a local GP for assistance as there could be some serious damage that’s delaying healing of the injury.

      ToeDoc

  • Mary says:

    Hello,
    Thank you for the informative website. I’m a dance teacher and performer and I injured my left big toe back in October/November while tap dancing. It continued to bother me on and off (both dancing and walking) until I could give it a break over the holidays. The first two weeks back in the studio were fine, but I seemed to have aggitated it again last night. I’ve put off going to see a doctor as I assume he or she will likely tell me to rest it; however, resting it is not really an option for me as I teach four days a week and I have a performance next week. After dancing for several hours I start to develop a cramp-like pain on the bottom left side of my foot and bottom arch. Is there anything else I can do? Would it still be worth going to see a doctor?

    Thank You,
    Mary

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Mary,

      The continuous stress on the toe has both slowed recovery and potentially caused long term damage. Notice that when you took a break over the holiday that you had time where there was little or no pain. If you have no option but to keep dancing work to alleviate any pressure on the toe in any way you can. The more rest time you have the better, and that can be in any way. The additional pain you’re dealing with is likely a result from displacing your weight on other parts of the foot. Although the idea of rest may not be appealing it may be crucial for a full recovery.

      Seeing a doctor may help, same with applying a bandage or tensor to the area, but your best bet is always rest. ;)

      ToeDoc

      • Mary says:

        Hello ToeDoc,
        Thank you for your response. I pretty much expected what you wrote. I read about the “buddy wrap” but could you explain what a tensor is?

        Thank You,
        Mary

        • Toe Doc says:

          Hi Mary,

          A tensor is similar to a buddy wrap but can be used around the entire foot to help stabilize it and hold the ankle, and toes in place, especially while engaging in activities. Tensors are generally used for more severe injuries or recovering from larger sprains but if your entire foot is in pain you want to cover all your bases in terms of recovery and prevention.

          ToeDoc

  • Crystal says:

    I jammed my second and third toe on a wooden chair leg about 24 hours ago. The second toe seems fine, but the third toe isn’t. When I jammed it, it was excruciating. After a minute or two, my toe went numb. It was numb for a while (I don’t recall how long). It is no longer numb, but the entire top of my toe from the top joint to the tip is redish purple. There is some swelling, but not a huge amount. It hurts very much when I touch it. My foot also hurts a little in a very localized spot along the same bone or tendon as the toe, and there is a small bruise as well. I have no insurance, so I guess my my question is, should I seek medical attention? I have read that if the toe is broken and not treated, it can lead to arthritis. At age 47, I already have severe osteoarthritis in many joints, so that possibility worries me. Should I rest (I really don’t want to do that part), ice (I’m doing it right now, and it does make it feel better), etc. and wait and see, or should I see a doctor? Your site is extremely informative. Thank you.

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Crystal,

      Although resting may be the thing you want to do least, it is one of the most important steps in recovery. As for the choice between visiting a doctor or not, it’s entirely up to you. If you’re really worried about arthritis developing it may be worth seeing a GP, if the symptoms match with many of those listed on this page then R.I.C.E. treatment may be adequate. The numbness is worrying due to the fact that there may be a lack of blood flow to the injured area. Gently massage the injured joint to see if the pain continues to lessen and to encourage more mobility in the area. If no improvement in the next three days, take the safe route and visit a doctor.

      ToeDoc

  • victoria says:

    I stubbed my big right toe on a concrete step today in work I don’t appeat to have any bruising and can bend my toe with no pain It’s when I walk on it or point my toe towards the ceiling i get pain. What could this be?

  • Nancy says:

    I missed the last step on my stairs and my big toe slammed to the tile below two weeks ago. I saw a doctor that afternoon. He took x-ray of the foot & toes and saw no broken bones. He told me I probably torn ligaments in the big toe. I had swelling, bruising, which I iced and elevated my foot. The dr. recommend getting a boot for it and it would take about 4 weeks to heal. I would elevated my foot every night. Some days it doesn’t hurt much, so I am thinking it’s getting better. But the last 4 days I have had more pain and some acute pain even while elevating the foot. Is this all part of the process of healing. If I did torn ligaments how would I know they healed. Unfortunately I can’t sit around all day with my foot elevated. I have 4 children to raise. Just trying to understand all this. By the way I had part of the bone removed 28 years ago because of my bunion. The big toe was not straighten and of course that’s the injured toe now. Please help.

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Nancy,

      Did you mention that the bone was removed to your doctor? Make sure your current GP has all the facts. As for the pain, are you using the foot and actively engaging the toe? The clenching and un-clenching movement can be quite stressful on the joint when it is in recovery mode. If you’re raising four children and need to be active on some level it can definitely be tough. Buddy wrapping and protecting the toe with a boot can shield the joint from further harm but can also delay the healing process which is probably why some days have more pain than others. You’re likely looking at an extended recovery time that can only be sped up by rest. Make sure the toe is protected at all times and that anything you’re doing is never aggravating the toe to the point of pain.

      ToeDoc

  • Gareth says:

    Last Saturday i was doing martial arts and the second toe in on my left foot hit someones shin. At the time the pain was immense and there was some swelling throughout the course of the day. However now the swelling has gone down a little and the pain has only been there if pressure is applied. Also it has gone a nice purple colour. Is this a sprain or just simply a bad bruise?

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Gareth,

      Sounds like a bruise for now but if the toe starts bothering you give it some R.I.C.E. treatment to see if that helps and if it’s still bothering you in a week you have likely sprained the toe.

      ToeDoc

  • lisa says:

    On Jan 2, I was walking out the door and stumped my right big toe on the threshold bottom part of the door. It was immediate severe pain. And a month and a half later, the toe hurts still. Never any discoloration, swelling and doesnt appear to be crooked either. But if i touch it, or it rubs across the mattress at night or anything puts pressure on it, it hurts. Hurts to bend it. Its more of the knuckle to the left and the area where the toe connects to the foot. I just dont want to go to the doctor for just a toe. Thanks in advance!

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Lisa,

      You shouldn’t be concerned about visiting the doctor for a toe injury, especially if it’s been six weeks. You ma have chipped the bone or torn some of the ligaments on one side of the toe. Try icing and resting the toe but if it really is too tender to touch than buddy wrapping it or seeing a doctor should be the next step.

      ToeDoc

  • Sydney says:

    I am a dancer and I have been performing on stage for three days now. Yesterday I did my first routine and everything seemed fine, but as the performance came to an end my baby toe on my left foot started to bother me. I woke up this morning and couldn’t put any weight on it. It’s red and not very swollen, but the toe is twisted sideways. I had to dance on my toe again today and I will tomorrow and Saturday.
    (I have been wearing those foot undies or bear paws to dance in.)
    I don’t think I broke it- but what could I have done and what can I do to fix it.

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Sydney,

      Judging by your symptoms it sounds like a sprained toe or case of turf toe. In this case R.I.C.E. treatment is important. Depending on the severity of the sprain you may want to talk to your trainer or a sports therapist for further remedies. For now try to avoid using the toe if possible. If you need to dance over the next couple of days you can try padding the area to avoid having the toe impact on hard surfaces but dancing is likely to cause further aggravation to the injury. First chance you get, rest and apply ice and pressure to the toe and make sure you allow the proper amount of time for the injury to heal.

      ToeDoc

  • Preston says:

    I stubbed my toe pretty badly about 6 – 7 weeks ago. For the first 48 hours I could barely walk. It was pretty swollen but I was elevating it and icing it regularly. Swelling has gone down considerably and there is no bruising at all. The only noticeable difference with the eye is the bone on the inside of my foot that juts out at the joint of my big toe looks a little bigger on the foot that I stubbed. I have pretty good range of motion but it is still pretty painful to bend all the way or to push off it when I run. I have not got it x-rayed cause I am temporarily living in a town with poor medical assistance. With this info can you give me any diagnosis on my toe situation? I like to be active and run and the pain is not 100% gone.

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Preston,

      Try gently testing what movements cause pain in the toe by moving the toe in typical directions. Discovering what triggers the pain will help you establish movement actually hurt the toe and which don’t. If you want to remain active, swimming is usually a good exercise format which can limit injury or re-injury of the body. You may also want to seek some therapeutic treatment such as active release, acupuncture, massage, or physiotherapy. These can help improve the condition of the toe and enhance recovery. It sounds like a minor sprain or a bad stub, the above recommendations should help.

      ToeDoc

  • Luke says:

    Hey Toe Doc,

    I jammed my left “ring finger” toe into an iron table leg exactly six weeks ago today. It has been progressing, as I wasn’t able to put pressure on it without pain, was using crutches, and it was blue and swollen and my leg got cold. At this point, the coloring is normal, my leg doesnt get cold, the swelling is almost entirely down in my foot, and the toe is just a bit swollen as compared to that on the other foot. It doesnt visually look deformed, so I think it’s straight. I’m at the point where I’m walking on it, but it still feels “tight” around the base of the toe. As I had previously been walking on the other side of the foot, now the side with the injured toe has a strain in the arch, but that’s slowly going away as I walk normally more and more. Bending the toe hurts at the extreme ends of motion. Stopping “on a dime” while walking hurts, as the toe bangs at the front of my shoe. At six weeks, I thought I’d be completely healed, but obviously it will take longer. Obviously there are signs of progress, albeit slow. I just wanted to see if this recovery period seems normal, and if you can give an idea of how much longer to expect. Thanks!

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Luke,

      Recovery can vary depending on age, gender, body type and injury history as well as a multitude of other minor and sometimes major factors that come into place. The important thing here is that the toe is healing. Depending on the severity of the jamming it could take up to eight weeks to heal. Although that’s much longer than usual, it’s not impossible. Hope the toe recovers soon.

      ToeDoc

      • Luke says:

        I’m 27, Male, Thin, but have a long history of multiple injuries to both feet, ankles mostly. I feel like I’ve been compensating back and forth and making both worse. This is about seven years of damage…any recommendations? Are there any serious places…camps or long term retreats, perhaps, for recovering the ankles and feet? Please feel free to email me directly at lwalter2@comcast.net. Thanks so much!

        • Toe Doc says:

          Hi Luke,

          The multiple injuries to the feet, ankles and toes may have impacted the base level of health in these areas. Long term damage to any body part can have long term consequences. In terms of healing, seeking some therapeutic release would likely be a viable option.

          Acupuncture, massage, active release, physiotherapy and even bowen therapy can all have positive effects on weakened areas of the body. Your goal here is to improve the strength of these areas. Exercises and stretches from yoga an tai chi can also have positive effects. As far as retreats or camps go, it’s more important to seek active help in improving your foot health and searching to find what works for you. A few exercises or session several times a week can work wonders. You just need to sample some recovery methods and find what works for you.

          ToeDoc

  • Sarah says:

    I am a young dancer in my teens. I was at a sleepover with one of my friends and we were goofing around doing toe touches (where you jump in the air, split your legs apart, touch your toes, and land). I did one and landed funny. I’m not quite sure if I actually landed on my toe, or stubbed it into the ground, but on my left foot, both my 3rd and 4th toes are swollen and painful. The pain is mostly near the joint, where the toe meets the foot. It is hard to walk on and I have been limping all day. I have buddy taped the toes together. I have never injured my feet or toes before, other than many blisters and etc.

    I was wondering 2 things: Are the toes most likely broken or sprained? And would it be alright for me to be dancing again later on this week, as long as I don’t participate in pointe class? I would like to avoid the doctor if at all possible, because it would involve me missing school. Thank you so much!

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Sarah,

      It sounds like a minor sprain or just a stubbed toe. Monitor the pain and discomfort and note if the toe is improving or not. Avoid the pointe class and if the toe is feeling better than dancing may be an option, but stop if you start to feel any discomfort. If there is any severe pain, stop. If the injury is minor you don’t want to make it worse by stressing the injured toe joints. For now proceed carefully and stop if the pain grows or if there are no signs of improvement. R.I.C.E. treatment may expedite your recovery time.

      ToeDoc

  • Maggie says:

    A few weeks ago, I noticed a pain in my left foot (the ‘middle’ toe, and the ‘ring’ toe) seem to be hurting when I walk on it. I don’t remember any initial pain, but I think I jammed my foot somewhere. I only had a little bit of bruising (it’s gone now), but the pain has been getting worse. It’s fine when I’m barefoot, but when i put on shoes, I have to walk with a limp. This week I decided to look it up and have been taping the two toes together, it seems to help a little bit. I’m just concerned because it has been about 2-3 weeks since I got the injury. Should I go to a foot doctor and get it checked out? Again, there isn’t any bruising/doesn’t look deformed, just can’t put much pressure on those two toes. any thoughts? How long should it take for a sprained injury to go away?

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Maggie,

      It could be a stress injury from wearing poor shoes. If going barefoot feels more comfortable you may want to invest in a pair of barefoot shoes that support the freedom your feet need. Since there was no key trigger of the pain it may be just the time spent on the feet or putting them in an awkward position that causes the joints to react and become inflamed. Spend time doing things that don’t cause the feet pain (including wearing minimalist shoes or none at all).

      ToeDoc

  • Adrian G. says:

    Hi Doc,

    I am a sprinter who competes profrofessionally. My situation started September 26th 2011 where i was doing blocks to get ready for a major competition. I tried on these new spikes and on my first blocks, i felt a pain through in toe. I didn’t think much of it so i continue but couldnt finish my workout so i stop and went home. I ice it and every since that day my toe hasnt been the same. I went end up competing on the injuried toe in october and came to find out, it was a sprain toe or turf toe they call it. So i went to a podiatrist, he gave me a shot the first time to take pain and i ask him if it would heal it, he told me yeah, so i started back training end of november and my toe started acted upagain. So i went back to him, he gave me a next shot and he told me to take off 2 weeks, so i took off 3 weeks. I started with low intensity work trying to get my body fit, i was just feeling stiffness and a weird feeling in my toe which ignore for about a month. then i pick up the intensity a lil bit and my toe flare up again. i went in to da podiatrist again, he gave me some ultra sound and pain medication, so i continue training. anyways, yesterday Feb 23rd, i was about to do a sled pull, i felt this pop in my big toe and alot of pain rush down to my toe and now it is swell and i am sitting trying to figure out what is up with my toe. I do have alot of range of motion but the sweelling is under my big left toe and if i dorsiflex my toe up, it is very tight to the bottom and pain under there. Doc can you please help me out or i will have to sit out this olympic year???

    • Toe Doc says:

      Hi Adrian,

      Your situation is unfortunate, this page about turf toe may help but it’s likely nothing new for you. It sounds like the problem is that your toe hasn’t adequately recovered. Athletes, especially dancers or yogis often deal with similar injuries that build up over time as a joint is stressed in a way it’s not supposed to go over and over again. Old injuries become aggravated and the practitioner ignores the pain until he or she is forced to deal with it. If you sprained your toe sprinting and then continued to use the toe to the point of severe pain the road to recover may be longer than expected.

      That being said there are some therapeutic methods you may want to test out including physiotherapy, active release, acupuncture, massage etc. These healing methods can help relieve some of the inflammation and built up scar tissue to encourage healing. Rehabilitation exercises for the toe can strengthen it to avoid further injury. You may be looking at an extended recover but it’s better than an early career ending. There may be exercise(s) that you can substitute for the time being in order to give the toe time to rest. Casting and protecting the toe may also suit your purposes if you need to keep training.

      ToeDoc
      Help us out by +1 or liking our site! :)

      • Adrian G. says:

        Doc,

        Thanks Doc or your information. It really helped. it has been 5 days since i got re-inury, the swelling went down but not all as yet but the pain is bareable. I have been ultrasounding it about 3-4 times a day along icing alot and not going to workout this week whereas, i will be doing pool and bike workout for about starting next week for 4 – 5 weeks. Can this heal my help heal my toe heal with this time off not putting pressure on it?? I am wearing a shoe brace to take da pressure of my forefoot so when i am not working out or if i got to go out the house.

        Also, what is your thoughts about the plantur/spur inferno wrap or have you heard about this product to speed up recovery? And my therapist wants to try the “graston technique” to help eliminate scar tissue, was ya views on that?

        Blessings!!

        Adrian G,.

  • Adrian G. says:

    Oh i def. spread the word on your site. Your a blessings in itself… :)

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