July 17, 2023

How to Fix a Dislocated Toe

A dislocated toe is very painful and can cause swelling, bruising and numbness. It is important to seek medical help immediately to prevent further damage. Attempting to reduce or pop the toe back into place can cause more harm and increase pain, swelling and risk of permanent damage.

Each of your toes has three large bones known as phalanxes. When a toe is dislocated, it is usually because one or more of the phalanxes have become misaligned. The toe may be crooked or out of place due to birth defects, progressive diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and hammer toe that weaken knuckles and joints, blunt trauma or sports/work related injuries. Dislocations are most common in the second toe but can occur in any toe.

Diagnosing a dislocated toe involves a physical exam and X-rays of the injured foot. Your doctor may give you a pain reliever or muscle relaxer to make the examination less painful and more comfortable for you. Ice is recommended to decrease pain and swelling. It is best to ice the injured area alternating 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off for up to an hour.

In some cases, your doctor may reposition your toe manually and repair the torn ligaments that have allowed the toe to bend out of alignment. In other cases, your toe may be held straight by fusing the bent joint (arthrodesis). Depending on the type of surgery your doctor recommends for you, you may wear a cast or removable boot and be able to return to most activities within about a day or two. In more severe dislocations, you may need to remain in a brace or cast for up to eight weeks.


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