Broken Toe

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Broken toe facts

  • Broken toes are often caused by trauma or injury. Prolonged repetitive movements can cause a type of broken toe called a stress or hairline fracture.
  • Symptoms of a broken toe include pain, swelling, or stiffness, bruising, deformity, and difficultly walking.
  • Possible complications of a broken toe include nail injury, compound fracture, infection, deformity, or arthritis.
  • Seek immediate medical care if you suspect an open fracture of the toe; if there is bleeding; cold, numb, or tingling sensation; if the toe appears deformed or is pointing in the wrong direction; or blue or gray color to the injured area.
  • A broken toe is diagnosed with a medical examination, which may include X-rays.
  • To help decrease pain and swelling in a broken toe, elevate the foot, ice the injury, and stay off the foot.
  • Depending on the severity of the fracture, the toe may need to be put back into place (reduced), and some compound toe fractures may require surgery.
  • Pain from a broken toe can usually be controlled with over-the-counter pain medication.
  • Taping the toe to an adjacent toe (buddy taping) can be used to splint a fractured toe
  • Most broken toes heal without complications in six weeks.

Introduction to broken toe

A commonly injured area of the foot is the small bones of the toes (phalanges). Trauma and the injury to the foot often causes one or more of the toe bones to break (fracture).

What are the causes of a broken toe?

Trauma or injury such as stubbing the toe (jammed toe) or dropping a heavy object on the toe may cause a broken toe. The location of the toes (at the front part of the feet) makes them the most likely part of the foot to be injured.

Prolonged repetitive movements, as in certain sports activities, can cause a type of broken type of broken toe called a stress or hairline fracture.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/27/2015

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Broken Toe

Broken Toe Treatment

The treatment for a broken toe can be cared for at home in some situations; however, a broken toe may require medical treatment.

Caring for a broken toe at home include rest, ice, and elevation; provided medical care is not necessary.

Medical treatment for a broken toe will depend on the location and the severity of the fracture. Examples of possible medical treatment for a broken toe are:

  • Pain medication, for example acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin). Stronger pain medication may be prescribed in certain situations.
  • Reduction
  • Buddy taping
  • Casting
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