A broken toe injury is quite common and happens to people of all ages. It often occurs when you stub your toe or if you drop something heavy on your toes. The pain happens instantly and can be intense. Fortunately, there are treatment options that are both safe and effective and will have you back on your toes as soon as possible.
Broken Toe Symptoms
One of the most common symptoms of a broken toe is pain. Other symptoms of a broken toe include:
When to Call a Podiatrist
If you have symptoms of a broken toe that continue for more than a few days, or you are having trouble walking or wearing shoes, contact your podiatrist for an evaluation. Your podiatrist will do the following to diagnose your injury:
- Physical exam. Your doctor will examine your toes for areas that are tender or sore. The area around your toes will also be checked to determine the severity of the injury and if there are any other complications.
- Imaging tests. If your doctor determines that the toe is broken, imaging tests such as an X-ray may be ordered to confirm the location and type of break.
It is important to consult with a podiatrist for a broken toe in order to avoid further complications. Some complications that can happen as a result of a broken toe include:
- Bone infection. You are at risk for developing an infection in the bone if you have a cut or abrasion near the broken toe. Infections can lead to further complications if you have a condition such as diabetes.
- Osteoarthritis. A fracture can not only affect one toe but can extend into the joint of another. This can cause osteoarthritis over time as a result of overuse and wear of the joint.
Once your injury is diagnosed, your podiatrist will determine the best treatment options for your specific needs. Treatment depends on the severity of your injury and can include the following options.
- Buddy-taping. For less severe injuries to the toe, buddy-taping is often used to immobilize the broken toe. This method involves taping the broken toe to the toe next to it to keep it stable. The toe that is not injured acts like a splint for the broken toe. Buddy-taping can cause skin irritation so it is important to use gauze in between the toes. For those with a condition such as diabetes or a severe break, buddy-taping should not be used as an option.
- Stiff-soled shoe. A shoe with a stiff sole may be worn to prevent any bending or movement at the ball of the foot. This can reduce pressure on the toe while it heals.
- Ice. Ice is recommended to reduce swelling and inflammation in the broken toe and surrounding area.
- Elevation. Elevate the foot to help with swelling in the toes.
- Medication. Over-the-counter pain medication may be used to help manage pain. If you are in extreme pain or if the injury is severe, a prescription-strength pain reliever may be needed.
- Cast. If the broken bones need time to heal and there are fragments that need to be put back together, a walking cast may be used while the toe heals.
- Surgery. In the most severe cases, surgery may be needed. This is done to repair and realign any bones that are damaged. There may be pins, screws, or plates used to keep the toes in the proper position.
Recovery time for a broken toe depends on the extent of the injury and can vary from person to person. Typically, broken toes heal within four to six weeks.
Contact Us With Questions
If you have questions about a broken toe or are experiencing pain in your feet or toes, Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry can help. We offer a free initial consultation and can create a customized plan to address your concerns. To set up an appointment, fill out our contact form or call us at (301) 515-FEET.