Sprained Big Toe Joint Treatment

Sprained Big Toe Joint Treatment: Find out the symptoms, recovery time & complete treatment protocol for fixing your big toe joint!


Sprained Big Toe Symptoms:

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.


Causes Of A Big Toe Sprain:

Sprained Big Toe Joint Treatment
The 3 grades of a sprained big toe range from stretched, partially torn & fully torn.
  • 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 Joint Treatment
As the big toe bends back toward the foot, the soft tissue underneath becomes stretched or ruptured.


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 weeks. Will require podiatrist intervention & imaging. 



Is My Big Toe Broken Or Sprained?

Sprained Big Toe Joint Treatment
This toe is deformed & is obviously broken! Think deformity, excessive swelling & inability to move the toe; this means most likely broken!
  • 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 Ankle:

Sprained Big Toe Joint Treatment
Ice early & often!
  • This is most beneficial directly after the injury.
  • Icing 2-3x per day for about 15-20 minutes will decrease the flow of inflammatory cells into the muscle.
  • Afterwards the arteries will vasodilate further flushing out inflammatory cells from the region.
  • Ice has deeper penetrating power than heat.
  • Do not use heat immediately after the injury!



  • If possible elevate your leg while watching TV.
  • This will prevent as many inflammatory cells from reaching your ankle.
  • It will also drastically decrease the swelling.



Sprained Big Toe Joint Treatment
Wrap you big toe joint, but not too tight! The toe should not go numb.
  • It will increase the back flow of venous blood and help flush out inflammatory cells.
  • Use an ACE bandage or any other type of compression wrap.
  • It should not be so tight that it cuts off blood flow!


D)Topical anti-inflammatory medication or analgesics:

Sprained Big Toe Joint Treatment
Topical anti-inflammatory medications can decrease the swelling. This speeds up the start of healing time!


  • There are anti-inflammatory creams that can be prescribed by your podiatrist that can decrease the inflammation and speed up your healing time.
  • Capsaicin & Voltaren gel works great.
  • Biofreeze or anything with menthol in it.


E)Oral NSAIDs:

Sprained Big Toe Joint Treatment
NSAIDs can really help decrease the swelling & inflammation.
  • These include Ibuprofen & Aspirin.
  • This can be over the counter or prescription.
  • Do not take these unless instructed to do so by your physician or podiatrist.
  • Take a 1-2 week course to attempt to decrease the inflammation and speed up your healing time.
  • Take 2-3x doses per day as instructed, this builds up anti-inflammatory enzyme levels in your system.
  • Taking just 1-2 pills and then stopping does nothing for inflammation!


F)Protect The Big Toe Joint Sprain:

  • If severe enough, consider a hard sole surgical shoe.
  • If a mild sprain, wear a stiff soled running shoe.
  • Wear a shoe that will protect the big toe.
  • If it doesn’t fit in a show, consider a sandal.