This blog post is dedicated to every person who has ever said “you can’t do anything for a toe fracture”
While many patients and even some physicians contend this statement, this is technically a myth! While some toe fractures are way easier to care for than others, it is always a good idea to have an X-ray taken and be evaluated by a foot specialist if you continue to have pain in your toe after any trauma.
By the way, trauma includes stubbing your toe, accidentally kicking a wall in your sleep or dropping a jar of pickles on your foot. Out here in Fulshear, Texas, we even get the occasional livestock stomping on your foot injury🐄.
So you’re saying if I stub my toe that I should go see a doctor?? That seems a little extreme
Well not exactly. If you stub your toe and you have a little bruising and pain the next day, you can try taking some over the counter pain medication, icing and elevating the effected extremity.
HOWEVER, persistent pain (hurts every time you step), pain that makes you unable to comfortably put on a normal shoe, or causes you to limp is NOT normal and is worth getting checked out.
Please note! If you are DIABETIC or have a known history of NEUROPATHY (history of tingling, burning, numbness in your feet), it is advisable to seek medical attention if you notice toe discoloration or swelling because you may not be able to feel the pain of a fracture.
If you are wondering what are some URGENT reasons that should cause you to make an appointment with a doctor IMMEDIATELY, consider the following:
- If you think your toe looks crooked
- If your toe is rapidly turning colors
- If you have a laceration (a deep cut in the skin) associated with the injured toe
What will you do when I come to the office?
First order of business is that we will take x-rays of your foot which will help guide our treatment.
Treatment going forward will depend on the type of injury and also which toe you injured!
Some examples of treatment you may receive include:
- “Buddy splinting” or taping two of your toes together. This works for a non displaced fracture meaning the bones are in the correct position with the fracture. Many people who attempt this at home still have some pain afterward because they are taping the wrong toes together. This can stress the affected toe and potentially can make matters worse. It is always best to know exactly which toe is fractured and where the fracture is located to receive the most appropriate care.
- Closed reduction of a dislocation or dislocated fracture; for this treatment we will usually numb up your toe to put the bones back into a corrected position.
- A special shoe or boot may be prescribed depending on the toe injured and extent of injury.
- More rarely with toes, surgery may be indicated. If your fracture involves a dislocation of a joint, or we find that your bones are stuck in an incorrect position, it may be determined that a surgical pinning is necessary. In the smaller toes this is extremely rare.
- If your big toe is fractured, the location of the fracture and possible joint involvement is more critical in determining treatment. Your big toe has 2 joints that may be involved. Because your great toe is very important in the push off phase of gait, a fracture invading the joint could result in a higher indication for surgical correction. If this type of fracture is neglected and left untreated, it can result in ARTHRITIS
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DELAY TREATMENT?
The other reason that it is good to see a doctor who you can follow up with is that we may determine that your fracture is not healing in an optimal time frame. While many healthy people will heal fractures in 6-8 weeks, others may have bone healing issues. If you allow yourself to walk in pain for months, it may be too late for us to provide conservative treatment by the time you come to our office.