OUCH! MY TOE HURTS! COULD IT BE BROKEN?

James W. Rust
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Broken toes are all over the news today affecting celebrities from musicians like Rihanna to Olympic vaulter McKayla Maroney.  Broken toes are very common and often are a result of injury to the foot such as dropping something heavy on the foot.  Toes are also vulnerable to stress fractures, where repetitive stress to the toe causes a break.

Symptoms of a broken toe are pain, swelling, and possibly bruising.  Pain may worsen with activity.  Upon seeking medical attention, a doctor will most likely order X-rays to confirm the presence of a fracture.  If confirmed, the broken toe will need to be treated.  As far as treatment, activity should be minimal to allow healing or crutches should be used to offload the foot.  As well icing the fracture about 20 minutes every couple of hours for the first couple of days if this is an acute injury may help.  The foot should also be elevated to minimize swelling.  These steps can all be taken at home. To alleviate pain, NSAIDS or even stronger medications depending on the severity of the injury may be prescribed.   If the fracture is more severe then the injury may need to be splinted or casted.  Casting is typically not necessary for simple small fractures.  Buddy taping may be used for a small fracture in one bone.  With buddy taping, typically gauze is placed in between the broken toe and an intact neighboring toe.  Then the broken toe and intact toe are taped together.   Overall, healing for a toe fracture may take about 6 weeks.

There are many complications of a broken toe which include, first of all, worsening the fracture.  Subungual hematomas, or pooling of blood underneath the toenail, and arthritis may also occur.  However, taking the appropriate steps and allowing the fracture to heal may minimize these complications.

If you are suffering with pain in one or more of your toes, please do not wait to see a podiatrist.  The physicians at Atlantic Foot and Ankle Associates take a conservative approach for all types of injuries.   Make an appointment at one of our four offices conveniently located in Palm Coast, Orange City, Daytona Beach, and Port Orange and get back to walking pain free!

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