Dislocated Toe

It is very rare to have a dislocated toe. The only real way for this to happen is to suffer through a significant traumatic injury or have had a history of significant foot deformity. Dislocated toes are common among athletes, and they occur due to a direct trauma to the toe or because of an extreme sprain to the toe ligament.

Causes of a Dislocated Toe:

  • A dislocated toe is almost always due to a significant injury or stress.
  • Sports injuries are the most common.
  • Motor vehicle accidents are also a very common cause of this happening.
Dislocated Toe
This dislocated toe occurred secondary to a diabetic ulcer underneath the big toe with prolonged walking.

Dislocated Toe Signs & Symptoms:

  • Immediate, intense pain.
  • Extreme pain when attempting to flex the toe.
  • Visible deformity may be present (but is not always).Difficulty walking.
  • Swelling, bruising, tenderness or numbness.
  • Some people are more prone to dislocations due to lax ligaments or malformed joint sockets.
  • Dislocated toes are very painful, and you should seek medical assistance immediately.
  • Never attempt to reduce (pop back in) your toe yourself.
  • This can also occur in people who have peripheral neuropathy and poor sensation down in their feet.


A Bunion Is a Dislocated Toe:

Bunion Formation Angle
Bunion Formation Angle



Bunion X-ray
Bunion X-ray
  • Technically a bunion can be a dislocated toe. Normally the toe should be pointing forward, but in this case it starts to slowly deform and move from it’s original position.
  • If you wait too long the joint can eventually displace and just scar into place.


Dislocated Toe Bunion
Although this is difficult to prove, tight shoe gear has shown that those genetically susceptible to bunion formation are more likely to form a bunion.


A Hammer Toe Can Cause Pre-Dislocation Syndrome:

  •  Predislocation syndrome can occur when your toe starts to dislocate and cross over the 2nd big toe.
  • This is a gradual process where a hammertoe forms over your toe.
  • The ligament that holds the 2nd toe down is called the plantar plate.
  • As time goes on this ligament can simply elongate ad rupture.

  • This can eventually developed into what is called crossover toe.



Home Treatment for a Dislocated Toe:

  • If you truly did dislocate your toe, the sooner the better to get it put back into place.


  • If your toe is dislocated for too long, you can develop nerve or blood vessel injuries. This could include cutting off blood flow to your toe and depriving the skin and muscle of essential oxygen.
  • In most cases the toe is not at risk from a neurovascular standpoint, but it can lose it’s elasticity and deform into this position permanently. In that case the toe will stay crooked and deformed for a very long period of time.
  • A physician can sometimes numb this toe up and attempt to manually reduce it back into position.

Medical Treatment for a Dislocated Toe:

  • Apply the principles of R.I.C.E.(rest, ice, compression, elevation) until medical attention can be sought for your dislocated toe.
  • Try to see a doctor within 6 hours to ensure proper healing. The doctor will manipulate the toe back into place, and may buddy-strap the toe (to the one next to it) to ensure that it heals correctly.
  • Very frequently a toe can be popped back into place if it has not been a significant period of time yet.
  • An X-ray may be taken before treating the dislocation to ensure there are no other complications.
  • After the reduction (manipulation to put the joint back in place), a period of care should take place which might include strapping, ice and heat, whirlpool treatments, and strengthening exercises.


Other Causes of Toe Pain:

Most Likely:

Less Common Causes of Toe Pain:

For more information on dislocated toes and if you have one, check out this link: Broken Toe Pain