Foot + Ankle Problems + Treatments

Toe Fracture (Broken Toe)

Toe fractures are a very painful but common injury most often caused by an injury from accidental stubbing of toe or dropping a heavy object on the forefoot. They typically occur on the corner of an object such as a bedpost. The injury can cause displacement (or shifting) of the bone into poor alignment or may be non- displaced.

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Symptoms of a Toe Fracture

A toe fracture

This picture demonstrates a fracture of the right fifth toe. The injured toe is out of place and there is apparent bruising and discoloration of the toe. This is Dr. Carreira’s actual foot in 2006!

Symptoms of a toe fracture include: swelling of the toe and foot, bruising and discoloration, and pain with walking and weight bearing.

Diagnosis of a Toe Fracture or Broken Toe

Toe fractures can usually be diagnosed by a doctor on a plain x-ray. However, stress fractures may not be visible at first on x-ray. After the stress fracture heals a callus is formed which is visible on x-ray.

If the doctor suspects a stress fracture, but cannot see it on plain x-ray than a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be ordered.

Treatment of Toe Fractures

Most toe fractures can be treated non-surgically with supportive care consisting of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), resting the injured toe by limiting weight bearing activity, icing the injured toe, and elevation of the injured foot (RICE). “Buddy taping” the fractured toe to an adjacent toe can stabilize the fracture and provide some pain relief. If the toe is out of place like in the picture above, the doctor may need to “reduce” the fracture and straighten the toe. Wearing a wide-toe shoe with a rigid sole that is soft on the top is recommended.

A toe cap for treating a toe fracture

A toe cap may be useful for some patients to protect the injured toe. The toe cap is especially useful for patients who participate in at risk activities, including taking care of active dogs, working with young children, and heavy labor.

Surgical treatment is necessary in very rare circumstances. Dr. Carreira can discuss any further questions or concerns with you at your visit.