A toe sprain is caused by a partial tear of the ligaments that support a toe. Ligaments are strong bands of tissue that connect bones to each other.
Toe sprains may be caused by:
The Toes (Phalanges) of the Foot
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Factors that increase your risk of getting a toe sprain include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how you injured your toe. Your toe will be examined to assess the stability of the joint and the severity of the injury.
Images may need to be taken of your toe. This can be done with:
Toe sprains are graded according to ligament damage. The more ligaments damaged, the more severe the injury.
Some microtearing of ligament tissue
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and over-the-counter pain medications may be advised.
Topical pain medications, such as creams, patches, can also be applied to the skin.
American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
British Columbia Association of Podiatrists
Canadian Podiatric Medical Association
Adult foot health. The American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society website. Available at: http://www.aofas.org/footcaremd/overview/Pages/Adult-Foot-Health.aspx. Accessed September 21, 2013.
Churchill SR, Donley BG. Managing injuries of the great toe. The Physician and Sportsmedicine. 1998;26:29.
Mullen JE. O'Malley MJ. Sprains—residual instability of subtalar, Lisfranc joints, and turf toe. Clinics in Sports Medicine. 2004;23(1):97-121.
Pommering TL. Ankle and foot injuries in pediatric and adult athletes. Prim Care. 2005; 32(1):133-161.
Sports injuries. National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Sports_Injuries/default.asp. Published April 2009. Accessed September 12, 2013.
10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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