What causes a toe to break (fracture), and
what are the symptoms?
You may break one of your toes by stubbing
it, dropping something on it, or bending it. A hairline crack (stress fracture)
may occur after a sudden increase in activity, such as increased running or
Symptoms of a broken toe may include:
A snap or pop at the time of the
Pain that is worse when the toe is moved or
Swelling and bruising.
Possible deformity (not
just swelling), such as a toe pointing in the wrong direction or that is
twisted out of normal position. A dislocated toe can also look
Decreased movement or movement that causes pain.
How is a broken toe diagnosed?
A broken toe is
diagnosed through a physical examination. Your health professional will look
for swelling, purple or black and blue spots, and tenderness. An
X-ray may be needed to determine whether the toe is
broken or dislocated.
How is it treated?
Home care after breaking a toe
includes applying ice, elevating the foot, and rest. Medical treatment for a
broken toe depends on which toe is broken, where in the toe the break is, and
the severity of the break. If you do not have
peripheral arterial disease, your toe can be "buddy-taped" to your uninjured toe next to it. Protect
the skin by putting some soft padding, such as felt or foam, between your toes
before you tape them together. Your injured toe may need to be buddy-taped for
2 to 4 weeks to heal. If your injured toe hurts more after buddy taping it,
remove the tape.
In rare cases, other treatment may be needed,
Protecting the toe from additional injury.
This may include using splints to stabilize the toe, a short leg cast, or a
Surgery, if the break is severe.
Medical treatment is needed more often for a broken big
toe than for the other toes. An untreated fracture may cause long-term pain,
limited movement, and deformity.
PeaceHealth endeavors to provide comprehensive health care information, however some topics in this database describe services and procedures not offered by our providers or within our facilities because they do not comply with, nor are they condoned by, the ethics policies of our organization.