Toe Dislocation

ExitCare ImageToe dislocation is the displacement of the large bone of your toe (metatarsal) from the socket that connects it to your foot. Very strong, fibrous tissues (ligaments) connect your toe to a bone in your foot and stabilize the joint where these 2 bones meet. Dislocation is caused by a forceful impact to your toe. This impact moves your toe off the joint and often injures the ligaments that support it.


Symptoms of toe dislocation include:

  • Noticeable deformity of your toe.

  • Pain, with loss of movement.

  • Looseness in your joint, indicating a tear of the ligaments (severe dislocations).


Toe dislocation is diagnosed through a physical exam. Often, X-ray exams are done to see if you have associated injuries, such as bone fractures.


Toe dislocations are treated by putting your bones back into position (reduction) either by manipulation or through surgery. The toe is then kept in a fixed position (immobilized) in a cast, splint, or rigid postoperative shoe. In rare cases, surgical repair of a ligament is required, followed by immobilization of the toe.


The following measures can help to reduce pain and speed up the healing process:

  • Rest your injured joint. Do not move it. Avoid activities similar to the one that caused your injury.

  • Apply ice to your injured joint for 1 to 2 days after your reduction or as directed by your caregiver. Applying ice helps to reduce inflammation and pain.

  • Put ice in a plastic bag.

  • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.

  • Leave the ice on for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, every 2 hours while you are awake.

  • Elevate your foot above your heart as directed by your caregiver.

  • Take over-the-counter or perscription medicine for pain as directed by your caregiver.

  • If your caregiver has taped your toe to an adjacent toe, change the tape as directed by your caregiver.


  • Your cast or splint becomes loose or damaged.

  • Your pain becomes worse, not better.

  • You lose feeling in your toe, or you cannot bend the tip of your toe.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.