Flawless Physio Logo
Foot Bone or Joint Injury

Sprained Toe

Minute Read


Posted 5 months ago


Last updated: 04/12/2022


by James McCormack

Can you Sprain your Toe?

Yes, it is possible to sprain your toe. A ligament attaches a bone to a bone, and if it becomes overstretched, it can lead to a tear in the ligament. When this occurs in the toes of the foot, it is known as a Sprained Toe.

Picture of Sprained Pinky Toe

Sprained Toe Symptoms

The symptoms of a sprained toe include pain, redness and swelling of the joint of the toe. This can occur in any of the joints of the toes of the foot, but it is more common in the big and little toes.

Symptoms are often worse when the toes are extended, walking, running or if direct pressure is applied to the affected ligament.

Causes of a Sprained Toe

The most common type of Sprained Toe is a Big Toe Sprain, also known as Turf Toe. The causes of most sprained toes are a hyperextension of the joint when running on hard surfaces.

It is also common to sprain your toe when walking barefoot or flip-flops when your toe gets caught in an object. Hypermobility syndrome can increase your risk of a Sprained Toe.

How to diagnose a Sprained Toe

A clinician, such as a Physical Therapist or a Podiatrist, can diagnose a Sprained Toe using clinical tests and a Physical examination. Tests to place the ligaments of the toe can identify a sprain as they are painful and have more significant laxity.

If the clinician would like to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other injuries, such as a broken toe, they may refer for an x-ray to rule out a fracture or an MRI to identify a ligament sprain.

Sprained Toe Treatment

Home treatment for a sprained toe includes rest, ice and compression. The compression can help reduce toe swelling, while ice is an analgesic.

Physical Therapy is an effective treatment method involving taping, insoles, advice on footwear, stretches, stability and strengthening exercises.

Tape is highly effective at reducing pain levels by limiting the amount of extension of the joint, which is the primarily aggravating movement for a sprained toe. A Sprained Toe brace can also be used to limit the movement of the affected toe.

Insoles can bed as a medium to long-term solution to reduce the amount placed on the affected joint, while stiff running shoes are a good alternative.

Stretching, stability and strengthening exercises can help to address any biomechanical causes of a sprained toe and are highly effective at injury reduction for athletes.

Sprained Toe Taping


How Long does a Sprained Toe Take to Heal?

Depending on the severity of a Sprained Toe, it can take 4-12 weeks to heel. A mildly sprained toe can heal within 4 weeks with the correct management, while a severely sprained toe takes up to 12 weeks to heal.

Sprained Toe vs Broken Toe

A Sprained Toe is a tear to the ligament of the joint of the toe, whereas a Broken Toe is a fracture of the toe’s bone. A sprained toe is primarily painful when taking the joint into hyperextension, while a broken toe is painful with all toe movements. A simple x-ray is an effective scan to rule out a broken toe.

What does a Sprained Toe look like?

A Sprained Toe is red and swollen immediately after injury, while within 24-48 hours, it is likely to become bruised around the joint and the toe itself.

Can you walk on a sprained toe?

Yes, you can continue to walk on a Sprained Toe. Limit your walks to 10-15 minutes, and wear stiff shoes alongside a sprained toe brace or taping to limit the irritation.

Can I run with a sprained toe?

We do not recommend that your run with a Sprained Toe, as it will likely worsen the symptoms and slow the recovery time.

Can you exercise with a Sprained Toe?

Yes, you can exercise with a Sprained Toe, and we recommend carrying out a non-impact activity such as swimming or cycling for cardiovascular exercise.

Physiotherapy with James McCormack

This is not medical advice and we recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack before trying any of these exercises. James offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.

Related Articles:

Causes of Little Toe Pain
Sprained Toe Brace
Causes of ball of foot pain
Causes of Outer Foot Pain
How to transition from a walker boot to a normal shoe

Share this page