Toe Sprain


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:
  • Excessive tension
  • Trauma
The Toes (Phalanges) of the Foot
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Risk Factors

Factors that increase your risk of getting a toe sprain include:
  • Stubbing your toe into something when walking barefoot or while wearing sandals
  • Stopping suddenly when running, causing a toe to jam into the end of your shoe
  • Landing awkwardly from a jump, causing a toe to jam into the end of your shoe
  • Sports such as:
    • Football
    • Soccer
    • Rugby
    • Basketball
    • Running
  • Wearing inappropriate footwear for an activity
  • Dancing
  • Poor coordination
  • Rough ground


Symptoms include:
  • Pain and tenderness in the toe
  • Pain when moving the toe
  • Swelling and bruising of the toe


You will be asked 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.

Grade 1

Some microtearing of ligament tissue

Grade 2

  • Partial tearing of ligament tissue
  • Mild instability of the joint

Grade 3

  • Severe or complete tearing of ligament tissue
  • Significant instability of the joint

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