Toes tend to break when there is excessive pressure from the upper portion of the body. This impact results in Broken Toe or Fractured Toe which is a very painful condition. Possible complications of a broken toe or fractured toe include compound fracture, nail deformity, arthritis, and infection. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if you have sustained a broken or a fractured toe.
Symptoms of Broken Toe or Fractured Toe
- Most common symptom that a person with broken toe or fractured toe will experience is that of instant pain in the foot as a result of a traumatic condition.
- Inflammation is also a common symptom of broken toe or fractured toe.
- If injury is associated with soft tissues, then there may be bruising.
- In cases of fracture of the toe, the toe appears dislocated.
- In cases of a hairline fracture of the toe, then the individual may not have any symptoms of a fracture and it gets confirmed only when x-rays are taken.
- Symptoms of broken toe or fractured toe includes bruising, discoloration, bleeding, swelling and difficulty ambulating.
It is quite tough to find out manually if you have a broken toe or fractured toe due to the structure of the toe and the presence of metatarsals in the same place. Toes are made up of 14 bones called phalanges. There are 3 bones in the small toe and two bones in the big toe. There are high chances of a misdiagnosis of a fracture of phalanx instead of a metatarsal fracture.
In case of direct trauma, phalangeal fracture takes place. This trauma may be caused by some heavy object dropping on the foot etc. Broken toe or big toe fracture is generally as a result of undue stress such as seen with sportsmen.
Types of Broken Toe or Fractured Toe
Some Common Fractures of Toe Are The Following:
- Broken little toe or fracture of little toe.
- Broken big toe or fracture of big toe.
- An uncommon occurrence of a hairline fracture.
Fracture of the pinky and hallux toes are more common because they are more exposed and the other toes are protected by other bones of the foot.
Treatment of Broken Toe or Fractured Toe
A broken toe needs to be evaluated by a doctor or a podiatrist to determine the best course of treatment. Immediate first aid is important for faster recovery.
- As an immediate measure to deal with broken toe or fractured toe, the first thing that needs to be done is to relieve stress from the foot.
- Apply ice if you suspect your toe is broken.
- Keep your foot elevated
- Avoid putting weight on the foot
- Use a soft compression bandage to wrap your foot. But don't make the bandage too tight.
- RICE protocol.
- Consultation with a physician for confirmatory diagnosis or broken toe or fractured toe.
- Radiological studies to confirm the fracture of toes.
- If the toe fracture is very small and the fracture is of the smaller toe, then no treatment is necessary as it does not cause any impairment.
- For broken big toe or big toe fractures, the patient is given protective shoe wear for ambulation. Custom made walking boots are also available to help facilitate ambulation.
- In majority of cases, the physician buddy straps the toe to the adjoining toe to immobilize the toe.
- The individual should avoid weight bearing for at least a month if the person has a complex fracture of the big toe.
Prognosis and Recovery Time following Broken Toe or Fractured Toe
Broken toe or toe fracture may involve big toe and other small 4 toes. The fracture of proximal phalanx is most painful than middle and distal phalangeal fracture. Hairline and non-displaced toe fracture heals with no complications or deformity. Toe movements are restricted after conservative or surgical treatment using braces or cast. Displaced or comminuted toe fracture often heals with deformity.
The prognosis is always good with broken toe or toe fracture since fracture heals with conservative or surgical treatment. Recovery time for broken toe or toe fracture depends on type of fracture. Recovery time to achieve near normal function of the broken toe or fractured toe is 4 to 6 weeks. Physical therapy may not be necessary once broken toe or toe fracture is healed.