Sprained Toe: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

What Is A Sprained Toe?

An individual is said to have sprained a toe when he or she damages the ligaments or tendons of the toe region due to a fall or trauma while playing contact sports like soccer or rugby where the chances of a person tripping and falling on the toe is quite high. To understand the anatomy of the toe region, it consists of three small bones known as the phalanges. The big toe is a bit different in that it has only two phalanges. These bones are connected together at the interphalangeal joints and the metatarsals which are the bones of the foot. These joints are made up of strong connective tissues which wrap themselves around the bone thus acting as a shock absorber, so that the bones do not get fractured or dislocated with minor injuries. When an individual is involved with some form of contact sports excessive pressure is put on the toe area especially when playing football or rugby where the person has to kick the ball with incredible amount of force. In cases due to a fall or some other reason if there is excess pressure exerted on these joints which is more than it can handle then the joints may get injured with damage to the cartilages or tendons. When this happens then the individual is said to have suffered a Sprained Toe.

Sprained Toe

What Causes Sprained Toe?

Sprained Toe is one of the most common injuries in contact sports and even sport like ice skating where the person can slip on the ice and fall and sprain the toe. Collision with another player might also be a cause of Sprained Toe. In some instances Sprained Toe can also be caused due to overuse, especially in people who work in occupations which require prolonged standing or pushing and pulling of heavy items which puts undue pressure on the toes. Sports that put a person at high risk for getting a Sprained Toe are track and field, gymnastics, ice skating, ice hockey, football, rugby, dancing.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Sprained Toe?

If someone suffers a Sprained Toe then he or she will experience onset of severe pain in the toes immediately after the injury. In some cases, there may be no pain at the time of injury as the individual may not pay much attention to the injury, but the pain may become significantly pronounced at night or while resting, or even the following day after the injury. In some cases the pain may radiate to other parts of the foot also. This pain significantly increases when putting pressure on the toe like when trying to walk, jumping, jogging, running and the like. The affected individual will also experience pain with even slight palpation of the affected region. If the toe gets severely sprained then there will be swelling and discoloration along with pain and it may become extremely difficult for the patient to walk normally or with ease.

How Is Sprained Toe Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose a Sprained Toe, the physician will first take a look at the injured area and will do a slight palpation to look for tenderness and pain. A radiographic study will be ordered in case of swelling and discoloration to rule out a fracture. Once a fracture has been ruled out then the diagnosis of a Sprained Toe is all but confirmed. To rule out other soft tissue injuries, a CT scan or an MRI may be ordered to take a better look at the internal structures of the toe and foot region.

How Is Sprained Toe Treated?

If you are an athlete or a stage dancer then a Sprained Toe can easily put you off for a few weeks and the recovery will depend on how you take care of the injured foot in the meanwhile. The more you handle your foot with care the more speedy will be the recovery of toe sprain. All of this depends on the attitude and the willingness to go back to normal sports or dancing of the affected individual. Some of the ways to get rid of Sprained Toe and minimize the pain and go back to normal activities at the soonest possible time are:

Icing: The moment you injure your foot, the best thing to do is to ice the foot. This will calm down the pain and swelling to a significant degree. Once you have realized that you have a Sprained Toe then ice the affected region at least three to four times a day up to 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

Elevation: Try and keep the injured foot elevated as much as possible. This will help in reducing pain and swelling. To do this, you can put the foot on a chair to bring it to the level of your body.

Pain Medications: Taking a full course of antiinflammatory medication like ibuprofen as prescribed by the physician is important for speedy recovery.

Use of Inserts or Casts: Try and wear shoes that provide extra cushion to the toes during the period of recovery. An air cast has also been shown to be beneficial for Sprained Toe.

The above treatments will definitely help you in treating Sprained Toe and that too in the quickest possible time. In case, if the injury still does not resolve then it becomes vital to consult a physician to rule out other tissue injuries which can be found out with further investigations. Usually, Sprained Toe heals within a couple of weeks.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 5, 2019

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