I Think I Broke My Toe! Should I See a Doctor?

March 27, 2017

Dr. Shermi Parikh

The short answer is yes! If you suspect you’ve broken your toe, the best thing you can do to start the healing process is get it checked out by your doctor. The full extent of your injury may not be evident right away, but your podiatrist can provide a full assessment and devise a specialized treatment plan to prevent complications.  

A common misconception is that there isn’t much to be done about a broken toe other than wait out the pain. But because more than half of the bones in the feet belong to the toes, even a small fracture can have a significant impact on the rest of the foot, which in turn affects the rest of the body. Any kind of fracture takes time to heal, but the most important part about taking care of a healing fracture is to ensure that it heals properly to prevent longer term problems.  A broken toe that doesn’t heal properly can lead to arthritis and other complications that may impact your day to day activities.

How do I know if my toe is actually broken?

A common myth about toe fractures is that if you can walk on it, it’s not broken. But a broken toe doesn’t always prevent you from walking, they can cause pain without impairing mobility, which may make the injury seem less troublesome than it really is. A blow or trauma to the toe followed by swelling, bruising, mis-aligned or abnormally positioned toes, or sharp pain at the spot you were hit can all point to a broken toe. A trained podiatrist can take an x-ray to determine the exact location of the fracture, and provide an individualized treatment plan depending on the type of break you’ve sustained.

What Are My Treatment Options?

Your treatment plan will depend on what kind of break it was and where you sustained it, but there are a few general treatment options.

  • The R.I.C.E Method: RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Utilizing this method, often combined with over-the-counter painkillers can start to relieve bruising and swelling immediately after sustaining an injury.  
  • Buddy Taping: Using medical tape to join the broken toe with another toe can encourage proper alignment of the toe while healing. It also helps to control pain by immobilizing the broken toe
  • Wearing supportive shoes: Splints and surgical boots provide a rigid sole to immobilize your toe while it is healing. This can provide cushioning while minimizing strain and pressure on the foot and keep it from sustaining further injury.
  • Surgery: If your fracture results in significant toe displacement or injury to the toe joint, your podiatrist might recommend toe surgery. Dr. Parikh makes an effort to exhaust all appropriate healing options in these scenarios before suggesting surgery.

At Family Foot and Ankle Center, Dr. Parikh wants to provide the best care possible. Don’t let the myth that there isn’t anything you can do for a broken toe elongate your healing process. If you suspect your toe may in fact be broken, don’t hesitate to set up an appointment with Dr. Parikh!