Broken Toe: When to Seek Treatment

A broken toe can cause significant pain, often limiting mobility. If you have ever dropped something on your toe or simply jammed it, you know how painful this type of injury can be. But how do you know if seeking treatment is necessary for your toe injury?

If you are suffering pain resulting from a trauma to one of your toes, it is wise to determine whether or not you have a fracture. A broken toe (toe fracture) can have a range of symptoms.

Symptoms of a Broken Toe

  • Swelling
  • Throbbing pain
  • Inability to bear weight or walk on the impacted foot
  • Bruising
  • Numbness
  • Sensitive to touch
  • Inability to bend the impacted toe

How do you know that your toe pain needs medical treatment outside of home care? If the pain causes limited mobility and the pain does not subside with the use of rest, ice, compression and elevation, it is wise to seek evaluation from a foot and ankle orthpaedic surgeon. Specifically, a fellowship trained foot and ankle surgeon would be able to assess and offer appropriate treatment options.

Treatment of a Broken Toe

Once a doctor has determined that you have a broken toe, your treatment will depend on the type of fracture you have sustained. This will vary on a case by case basis.

  • Use of a rigid shoe: In order to support and protect your toe, a rigid shoe with room for a swollen toe, might be recommended until the pain and swelling has decreased.
  • Buddy taping: Securing your broken toe by taping it to the adjacent toe can help protect and support the injured toe. This technique can help reduce pain and provide stability for the broken toe.
  • Surgery: While most broken toes can be treated in the office, there are times when a fracture requires surgical intervention. If your toe is significantly displaced, use of pins to re-set the toe can be required.
  • Toe manipulation: In the case of a broken toe that is crooked or displaced, realignment of the impacted toe might be necessary. After first numbing the toe, the doctor can reduce the fracture and put it back into place.
  • Casting: In order to keep pieces of a fractured toe properly in place, a doctor might suggest the use of a walking cast.

If you suspect you have broken your toe, attempt to decrease your pain and swelling at home and schedule an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon to determine if further treatment is needed.


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