Everyone has stubbed a toe at some point. Maybe you were trying to cross a room in the dark, or you kicked a ball too hard, or you tripped while running. No matter how it happens, stubbing your toe hurts. However, if the pain persists longer than you would expect, you may have a more serious injury than just a jammed digit. It’s easier than you think to develop something like a broken toe.
This injury is fairly common and can affect anyone. The bones in your toes are small and relatively thin. Together, they are strong enough to provide you with balance and help with forward movement, but they do have limits. Once those limits are reached, like any other bone in your body, they will break. Because these bones are so much smaller than other structures in your skeleton—even the other parts of your foot—they are fairly easy to fracture.
When the injury happens, usually you feel the pain right away. The affected digit swells and bruises. It will also feel tender to the touch. Sometimes, your toe may appear crooked. The discomfort usually makes it difficult to walk or participate in high-impact activities. The extent of these symptoms also depends on the severity of the damage.
How It Happens
Typically, the injury occurs when you drop something heavy on your foot, or you sharply stub a toe. The sudden increase in pressure causes your toe to crack painfully. The break can be displaced or non-displaced. A displaced fracture occurs when the broken ends of your toe do not align, which could cause serious deformities or problems with healing later. A non-displaced toe is a much simpler injury, though it still needs care to recover.
Failing to treat this could cause long-term pain in your foot, so even if the injury is small and simple, don’t take your toes for granted. Bones that do not heal properly may deform as a result, creating bumps or bulges that make wearing certain shoes difficult. If the break involves a joint, you are also at risk for developing arthritis. Any chronic toe pain could be a problem, though—you need your toes for general mobility, so having them constantly in pain could impair your activities.
Healing the Forefoot
Usually, a broken toe is easy to identify, but you need to have it evaluated to determine the severity of your condition. Dr. Noah Levine will carefully examine your toes and use diagnostic images to get a clearer picture of the fracture. Then, our staff will help you execute a treatment plan tailored for your unique feet and needs.
Simple, non-displaced fractures will only need basic treatment. Buddy-taping the affected digit to a healthy toe next to it and taking a break from hard-impact activities should give your foot the rest it needs to heal the toe. You’ll need to ice the broken digit and keep your foot elevated when you can. This helps decrease inflammation and swelling.
In some cases, you may need a stiff-soled shoe for a time to prevent bending at the ball of the foot and putting pressure on the injured digit. More serious injuries may need to be casted to avoid all weight-bearing activities on your foot. The most complicated fractures may need surgery to repair and realign the damaged bones.
If you have a broken toe, you know how painful and immobilizing this relatively small injury can be. Don’t take your toes for granted. Let Absolute Foot Care Specialists help you restore your forefoot so you can return to your activities without discomfort. Submit a request on our website or call us at (702) 839-2010 to make an appointment at one of our Las Vegas offices.