Sprained Big Toe Joint Treatment

Sprained Big Toe Joint Treatment: This can take a few weeks or even a few months to get better. The real key is keeping your big toe stable!

A sprained big toe usually causes pain in the entire big toe joint:

  • Pain in the entire big toe.
  • Possible numbness, burning & tingling due to nerve irritation.
  • Swelling & edema in the big toe joint.
  • Swelling & edema in the big toe.
  • Bruising at the bottom of the big toe a day or two later.


Big toe sprain without any damage.
Big toe sprain with spreading and damage, this is a potential turf toe injury with rupture to the site.






Causes Of A Big Toe Sprain:

  • A sprained big toe usually happens when the big toe is forcibly bent backwards.
  • The big toe is usually firmly planted on the ground as your body weight goes over the big toe joint.
  • It is very common in sports.
  • This is the famous “turf toe” injury.



Sprained Big Toe Recovery Time:

There are three grades of sprained big toe injuries. The recovery time can very based on what grade of sprain you have. Don’t worry, most sprains are a grade 1 injury.


1) Grade 1 Sprain:
  • The joint capsule & plantar anatomy are simply stretched.
  • This is the vast majority of big toe sprains, no matter how painful they are initially.
  • This results in a more mild amount of swelling & bruising.
  • Perform initial treatment as detailed below.

Sprained Big Toe Recovery Time: 1-2 weeks.


2) Grade 2 Sprain:
  • This is a partial tear of the plantar anatomy.
  • This results in severe bruising & swelling.
  • It is usually indistinguishable from a grade 1 sprain early on.
  • This likely does not need any surgery or intervention.
  • It is a good idea to head in for precautionary imaging at your podiatrist’s office.
  • Perform initial treatment as detailed below.

Sprained Big Toe Recovery Time: 2-4 weeks.


3) Grade 3 Sprain:
  • This is a complete tear of the plantar anatomy.
  • This causes severe swelling & bruising.
  • There is likely an inability to move the big toe joint.
  • There is possible deformity in the big toe joint.
  • This will require a visit to the podiatrist for imaging and intervention.

Sprained Big Toe Recovery Time: 2-3 Months. Will require podiatrist intervention & imaging. 



Is My Big Toe Broken Or Sprained?

  • This is very difficult to say for sure.
  • The only way to know 100% is to head to your podiatrist’s office or the ER for X-ray imaging.
  • There are many cases where a sprained big toe looks worse than a broken toe.
  • There are other cases where very mild injuries can result in a broken toe.

Think broken toe if:

  • Crunching noise during the injury.
  • Severe swelling & bruising.
  • Complete inability to move the toe.
  • Obvious deformity.


Sprained Big Toe Treatment:


A) Ice The Big Toe:

  • Icing is most beneficial to the big toe sprain immediately after the injury.
  • The ideal amount of icing is for approximately 20 minutes, with a 1 hour break or more in between.
  • This allows the arteries to vasodilate after the ice is removed to flush all the inflammatory cells out of the area.
  • Ice is generally a better idea to use after the injury than heat.


B)Elevation of the Big Toe Joint To Prevent Swelling.:

  • Elevating can help, it is not the most essential part of the treatment.
  • While watching TV just keep your feet up and you will feel your big toe throbbing less.
  • This is a good idea if you are having less pain to this site.




  • This is a little bit less practical for the big toe compared to the rest of the foot.
  • This can help keep your swelling down if you are able to tape the foot.


D)Topical Anti-Inflammatory Medications:


  • Some of these are prescription creams. They are not the most beneficial thing for you in this type of injury.
  • Capsaicin & Voltaren gel works great.
  • Biofreeze or anything with menthol in it.


E)Oral NSAIDs:

  • These include Ibuprofen & Aspirin, but again you don’t want to simple just start taking a massive amount of these pills.
  • Check with your podiatrist if you have any issues regarding this ahead of time.
  • They initially don’t kick in at the beginning, but as a few days go on, your pain and inflammation should definitely start decreasing.


F)Use taping to keep pressure off of this site,:

  • Taping can be performed to keep pressure off this site.
  • This prevents the big toe from bending upward and injury the joint further.
  • If the big toe is not bent up, it is not nearly aggravated as much.


Turf toe taping is not always the single most practical thing. Sweating and skin moisture can cause it to loosen extensively.


G)Get yourself a good supportive shoe:

  • A great supportive running shoe can definitely keep pressure off the foot.
  • Make sure the shoe is as supportive as possible.
  • Make sure you can’t push the heel down with your thumb, also make sure you can’t collapse the front of the shoe.




H)Get a Turf Toe Gait Plate for the Big Toe Joint:

This is probably the single most important part of treating a painful sprained big toe joint.
  • A turf toe plate can be purchased usually for less than $40.
  • This is used to put into the shoe, this keeps pressure off the bottom of the big toe.
  • With lower grades of injury you can basically start moving pretty quickly.
  • This is probably the most important and beneficial part of treatment.






For information on big toe pain, click this link:

Foot Pain Behind Big Toe