Symptoms of a Torn Tendon in the Big Toe

Torn tendons in your big toe can be the result of turf toe -- the result of excessively bending your big toe upward. Torn big toe tendons also can be the result of stubbing your big toe, spraining your toe or occur in conjunction with a big toe fracture. Torn tendons in your big toes are painful and can cause multiple symptoms. Contact your doctor if you're experiencing persistent toe or foot pain.

Applying a cold compress to someone's foot. Credit: buffaloboy/iStock/Getty Images


You may experience swelling along the big toe as well as along your metatarsal bone -- the long bone that connects to your toes. Swelling may be mild or severe depending on the extent of the damage to your tendons. You can treat swelling by applying ice to the injury for 20 minutes at a time, three to four times per day. Your doctor might suggest anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce swelling around your tendons.


You may experience pain at your first metatarsal-phalangeal joint as well as along your big toe and your first metatarsal bone. Pain will likely occur underneath your foot and be especially noticeable while bearing weight on it. Pain can radiate to other portions of your foot. Your doctor might recommend relieving pain by taking an anti-inflammatory medication, icing your affected toe and staying off your affected foot.

Decreased Range of Motion

Pain and swelling of your big toe joint may limit your range of motion. You may have difficultly bending your toe or stretching it upward toward your body. Your range of motion will likely increase as your pain and swelling subside. Your doctor may prescribe physical therapy exercises to help increase your range of motion as you recover from your tendon injury. Exercises may include walking on your toes, writing the alphabet with your big toe or picking up objects using your toes.

Difficulty While Walking

Pain, swelling and limited range of motion can make weight bearing difficult. Your big toe joint is a weight-bearing joint in your body that flexes and bends as you move. If you have severely injured your big toe tendon, walking can become very painful. You may walk with a limp or may not be able to place any weight on your foot at all. If this is the case, your doctor may immobilize your foot and prescribe the use of crutches or another walking assistive device to promote healing of your toe joint.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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