For those who like “a place for everything, and everything in its place,” a dislocated toe or foot bone could be a real challenge. Not only have the bones moved out of position, but it can also hurt like crazy. Have patience, this too will pass—but not without some help from experts like our podiatrists at Aadvanced Foot Care Associates in Queens.
This can happen during sports like football, volleyball or skiing, or from a fall or accident of some kind. The toe or foot can look deformed or out of place, and will swell and bruise. The injury is usually extremely painful. You won’t be able to move the joint, and you may feel some numbness or tingling.
First Treatment for a Dislocated Toe
The pain will likely tell you to stay off the foot, but in case you’re tempted—don’t walk on it. You can use ice therapy immediately to keep swelling down, but you should call our office right away to have it evaluated. Dislocations, sprains, and breaks can all have similar symptoms, and you need expert help to know exactly what has happened to your foot.
After gathering information on what you were doing when it happened and past history of foot injuries, we will examine your foot and use X-rays or MRIs to diagnose your injury. We may try to gently move the joint back into place, a painful process that may require a local or even general anesthetic first to ease your discomfort.
Surgery for Dislocations
If we can’t restore the joint manually, we may need to do surgery to get the bones lined up properly and repair any damage to the ligaments, nerves and blood vessels around the joint. This is more likely if you have a Lisfranc injury in the area where your long foot bones (metatarsals) connect to those in your midfoot that form your arch. This type of injury usually involves damage to cartilage as well as ligaments, and is much harder to heal. Treating the injury surgically reduces your risk of developing arthritis in the area later, but does not eliminate it completely.
Once the bones are back in place, you will probably need a splint or boot to hold them that way while the tissues heal. This may take a few weeks or longer. This initial healing needs to be followed by a recovery period when you work on strengthening the muscles and regaining full range of motion in your toe or foot.
Home Care for Dislocated Bones
The most important thing you can do to help your foot heal is to keep it elevated as much as possible during the first couple of days to keep swelling down. When sitting, prop it up at waist level on a stool or couch, and elevate it with pillows when lying down.
Wrap a bag of ice cubes in a towel and apply it for 15-20 minutes every hour or two for the first day, and then 3 to 4 times a day. Ice therapy will help reduce both pain and swelling.
If your toe was buddy-taped to its neighbor, make sure the tape stays clean and dry. If it becomes soiled, remove it and re-tape it with clean paper or cloth tape. Care for any dressings after surgery to keep them clean and dry as well—we’ll show you how. We’ll also advise you on pain relievers to use and when you can start putting weight on your foot again.
Contact Aadvanced Foot Care Associates right away if you suspect you have dislocated a joint in your foot. You can reach our Rego Park office at (718) 896-4433, the Flushing location at (718) 969-2266, or our updated Plainview office at (516) 822-9595. We’ll help put bones back in their right places and relieve your pain.