The toes consist of multiple osseous and soft tissues including tendons, nerves, and ligaments, that support our body weight. Each toe has several small bones called phalanges that connect to metatarsals, the longest bones in our midfoot. Each toe is made up of three phalanx bones, which are the proximal, middle, and distal, except for the big toe which only has two phalanges, the proximal and distal.
The primary function of your toes is to provide posture and balance, support the body weight, and propulsion during the gait cycle. Not only do your toes help thrust your body forward when you walk, they actually help increase the length of your stride allowing you to run faster.
A dislocation is a condition that happens when the bones of a joint are knocked out of place. A dislocated toe is when the bones of a joint completely separate and the tissues or ligaments that hold the joint together are forced out of their usual positions. Toes commonly dislocate at the joint where the phalanges join, which are the distal interphalangeal joint (middle of your toe) or the metatarsophalangeal joint (where your toe meets the foot).
Dislocated toes most often develop over time due to birth defects or progressive diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or hammer toe which can cause knuckles and joints to go from regular to contracted to dislocated.
Generally, having a dislocated toe is much different than having a sprained toe or broken toe. The toe can sometimes be easily put back into place without an extended recovery period, although many of the symptoms are similar to a broken or sprained toe, treatment for dislocated toes can sometimes be quite rapid and have immediate results.
The toe joint pain caused by a dislocation often comes from direct or indirect impact to the injured area, however, the injury can sometimes occur after a toe sprain. Athletes are some of the most common victims of toe dislocations and often experience toe ligament injuries or tears accompanying the original injury. After any toe pain, one should aim to treat it as soon as possible.