Healing a broken toe

A broken toe is usually caused by trauma or injury. Performing prolonged repetitive movements causes a type of broken toe called a stress fracture. The affected area of the foot includes the small bones of the toe called phalanges which are susceptible to breakage when exposed to trauma.

A toe can be crushed where the bones are completely shattered or a comminuted fracture occurs in which the bones are misaligned.

Causes of a broken toe

  • Stubbed toe or jammed toe
  • Dropping heavy objects on the toe where the front area of the foot is prone to damage.
  • Prolonged repetitive movement such as sports activities can result to stress or hairline fracture
    Broken toe

    Apply ice on the affected area for at least 10-15 minutes every hour to lessen the severity of the pain and swelling for the first 2-3 days.

  • People with weak bones or suffering from osteoporosis can develop stress fractures by wearing ill-fitting shoes

Symptoms

  • Severe swelling and pain
  • Stiffness and bruising due to internal bleeding
  • Difficulty walking
  • A bent or deformed appearance of the affected area

Treatment

  • Take plenty of rest and avoid performing activities that cause pain.
  • Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the broken toe immediately after the injury to prevent internal bleeding and lessen inflammation while the leg is elevated on a chair or pillows. Apply ice on the affected area for at least 10-15 minutes every hour to lessen the severity of the pain and swelling for the first 2-3 days.
  • Compress the ice pack against the broken toe using a compression bandage or elastic support to lessen the inflammation. Avoid wrapping the compression bandage too tight to prevent any disruption in the blood circulation.
  • Use crutches, a boot or a cane to prevent placing pressure on the affected toe.
  • Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin as well as analgesics such as acetaminophen to lessen the pain and inflammation.
  • Buddy tape the broken toe next to the uninjured toe for support and help in realigning if the affected toe appears deformed.
  • Clean properly the broken toe using alcohol wipes and use a medical tape that is waterproof. Change the tape every few days for at least a few weeks. Put gauze or felt between the toes before buddy taping them to prevent irritation on the skin.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable with adequate room in the toe cap to accommodate the swelling and the taping of the affected area.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on a broken toe is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage joint and bone injuries including a broken toe by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

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