05 Aug You’ve Broken your Toe – now what?
Broken Toes: Five Facts You May Not Know
There are about 200,00 broken toes reported every year. This is a common, painful injury that responds well to immediate medical treatment. Here are five facts about broken toes that may surprise you.
1. You Can Tell If It’s Stubbed or Broken
Stubbing your toe can be excruciating. In fact, it can be hard to tell the difference between a stubbed toe and a broken one. Here are some ways to tell.
• Pain level: Both injuries are very painful, but a broken toe usually has a throbbing pain instead of the sharp pain of a stub.
• Bruising: Bruising is more common with a fractured toe.
• Toe shape: Is your toe swollen or crooked? It may be broken.
• How long the pain lasts: If your toe pain lasts for a couple of hours and then subsides, you probably have a stubbed toe. If it lasts all day and never seems to lessen, you likely have a fracture.
2. A Podiatrist Can Diagnose and Treat a Broken Toe
Some people mistakenly believe a doctor can’t do anything for a broken toe. If you suspect your toe is fractured, it’s important to see a podiatrist as quickly as possible. Stay off the injured toe, and use ice to reduce the pain and swelling. Try to keep it elevated until you can get help.
Your doctor will examine your toe and may use an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis. You may receive a splint to immobilize the toe. Another method is known as “buddy taping” or “buddy strapping,” which is a technique that binds your toe to the one next to it.
In severe cases, your podiatrist may recommend a full cast for your foot.
3. Surgery Isn’t Necessary
Surgery is only necessary if the break is severe or involves the joint. Your podiatrist is more likely to recommend nonsurgical treatments, including the following.
• Rest: In cases of mild fracture, rest may be all that’s necessary to heal a broken toe.
• Splinting and night splinting
• Boot walker, walking cast, or another orthopedic device
• Taping or strapping
4 Recovery Can Take a Few Weeks or More
Recovery from a fracture can take several weeks. You can expect to feel some pain during the recovery period, but there are ways to manage the pain.
• Pain medication: Your podiatrist can prescribe medication for your toe pain.
• RICE method: While you’re at home, use the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) technique to speed healing and reduce pain.
• Walking cast: A specially fitted cast can support your toe and reduce pain while you are in recovery.
5. Not Treating It Can Lead to Serious Problems
An untreated bone fracture can lead to serious foot problems, including lifelong deformity, arthritis, chronic pain, and loss of function. These problems may eventually require surgery. If you think you have a broken toe, call a podiatrist right away.
At Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine, we regularly diagnose and treat broken toes and other foot conditions. Call us today for all your foot care needs.