A broken toe is a common injury that most often occurs when you drop something on your foot or stub your toe.
In most cases, a broken toe can be immobilized by taping it to a neighboring toe. But if the fracture is severe — particularly if it involves your big toe — you may need a cast or even surgery to ensure that your broken toe heals properly.
Most broken toes heal well, usually within four to six weeks. Less commonly, depending on the precise location and severity of the injury, a broken toe may become infected or be more vulnerable to osteoarthritis in the future.
Signs and symptoms of a broken toe include:
When to see a doctor
In most instances, a broken toe occurs when you drop something heavy on your foot or you stub your toe against something hard.
Complications may include:
Preparing for your appointment
While you may initially consult your family physician, he or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in orthopedic surgery.
What you can do
What to expect from your doctor
Tests and diagnosis
During the physical exam, your doctor will check for points of tenderness in your toes. He or she will also check the skin around your injury to make sure it's intact and that the toe is still receiving adequate blood flow and nerve signals.
If your doctor suspects that you have a broken toe, he or she will probably order X-rays of your foot taken from a variety of angles.
Treatments and drugs
Lifestyle and home remedies
Elevation and ice can help reduce swelling and pain. Prop your foot up when possible so that your injury is higher than your heart. If you use ice, wrap it in a towel so that it doesn't make direct contact with your skin, and only apply it for 20 minutes at a time.
Last Updated: 2011-11-09
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