What is toe dislocation?

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Dislocated toe in children: Overview

Your child's toe can be forced out of its normal position (dislocated) if the toe is jammed or bent too far backward. Toe dislocations are common, especially during sports. Your child probably knew right away that something was wrong, because the toe hurt a lot, swelled, and looked crooked. The doctor put the toe back in its normal position. But your child will still need to be careful, because it can more easily go out of position again.

Rest and home treatment can help your child heal. The doctor probably taped the injured toe to the one next to it or put a splint on the toe to keep it in position while it heals. Your doctor may recommend exercises to strengthen your child's toe. If bones or muscles were damaged, your child may need more treatment.

How can you care for your child who has a dislocated toe?

  • If your doctor put a splint on your child's toe, make sure your child wears the splint as directed. Do not remove it until your doctor says to.
  • If your child's toes are taped together, make sure the tape is snug but not so tight that the toes get numb or tingle. You can loosen the tape if it is too tight. If you need to retape your child's toes, always put padding between the toes before putting on the new tape.
  • Make sure your child does not put weight on the foot unless the doctor says to. Your child may need crutches to walk.
  • If your child's toe is swollen, put ice or a cold pack on it for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Prop up your child's foot on a pillow when icing it or anytime your child sits or lies down during the next 3 days. Have your child try to keep it above the level of the heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Make sure your child rests the foot. Your child may need to change activities to avoid movements that irritate the toe.
  • Give medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with any medicines.
  • If your doctor recommends it, give your child anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to reduce pain and swelling. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • If your doctor recommends exercises, help your child do them as directed.

Dislocated toe in children: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has severe pain.
  • Your child's toe is cool or pale or changes color.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the toe.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Pain and swelling get worse.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.