Can you Sprain a Toe?

24 Nov Can you Sprain a Toe?

Do You Have a Toe Sprain?

You’ve stubbed your toe, and now you’re wondering if it might be sprained. Your toes have joints like other parts of your body, and those joints can get sprained. Here’s what you need to know about this common injury.

What Causes a Sprain?

A sprain is another name for a torn ligament. In most cases, extreme stretching causes the ligament to tear. Trauma and overuse are the normal causes of a sprain or torn ligament.

Most sprains are mild, but severe sprains can cause severe pain and immobilization. All sprains are painful and require you to stay off your feet for at least a few days.

image of runners stretching her foot

Do You Have Toe Sprain?

If you have a toe sprain, you will probably recognize the symptoms. You may have swelling, tenderness, and throbbing pain. You may have difficulty moving your toe.

If you suspect you have a sprain, follow these steps.

Use the RICE method. That acronym refers to rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Stay off your injured foot, and use ice packs to reduce the pain and swelling. Use compression bandages to keep the toe from moving. When possible, elevate your injured foot.

Take over-the-counter pain relievers. You may get pain relief from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like ibuprofen and naproxen.

Visit foot care professional. If your pain is severe and lasts several days, contact a podiatrist. You may have a severe sprain that requires more intensive treatment.

Types of Toe Sprain

When you visit a podiatrist, your doctor will categorize the type of sprain you have. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons classifies three grades of the sprain.

  • Grade 1 (Mild sprain): This is usually an overstretched ligament that may have tiny tears. You will experience pain when you touch the toes, redness, and some swelling.
  • Grade 2 (Moderate sprain): This usually refers to a partially torn ligament. It’s more painful, and the swelling and redness are more pronounced.
  • Grade 3 (Severe sprain): This a fully torn ligament or one with several tears. You will experience severe, throbbing pain and extreme swelling.

Treatment for a Toe Sprain

If your toe sprain is intense or doesn’t respond to at-home care, you will need medical care. A podiatrist can take an X-ray to be sure you don’t have a broken toe.

You probably won’t need surgery, but you may need to wear a walking boot and custom orthotics. Your doctor may prescribe a night splint to help the sprained ligament healing.

Functional rehabilitation is an important part of healing a sprain. You should stay off your toe until it fully heals, but rehabilitative exercises should begin as soon as the sprain heals.

Image of Dr. Joanna Shuman in Foot Doctor in Sterling VA

Can You Prevent Toe Sprains?

You can avoid toe sprains and many other foot injuries by following these steps.

  • Wear supportive shoes that fit properly. Shoes that are too tight will traumatize your toe ligaments. Shoes that don’t support your feet leave you vulnerable to injuries.
  • Use care when wearing flip-flops or open-toed sandals. If you’re wearing open-toed shoes, watch out for loose rocks and other things that might injure your toes.
  • Stretch thoroughly before and after exercise. Be sure to warm and stretch your ligaments before you exercise. Cooldown thoroughly after every workout.
  • Visit your podiatrist. Regular podiatric checkups will alert you to any problems with your feet or toes.

Take Care of Your Toes

At Shuman Podiatry, we treat toes with all types of problems. If you suspect you have a toe injury, contact us to make an appointment.

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