All about Broken Toes
When people break a bone, it’s usually a serious occurrence that requires a trip to hospital. With broken toes, that’s not always the case. Here are some ways to tell if you might have a broken toe, and what you should do about it.
How can you tell if your toe is broken?
Unless you have an extreme break, the only sure way to tell that your toe is broken is to be diagnosed by a medical health professional. The diagnosis is often made by a physical examination combined with medical imaging like an x-ray when necessary. The symptoms of a broken toe can be very similar to other injuries, so it’s important to get your toe looked at by your doctor if you suspect it might have a fracture.
There is no easily definable set of symptoms to diagnose a broken toe – some people with toe fractures are in extreme pain and unable to walk, whereas others can still move around. There are a number of factors that determine how severe your symptoms are, such as:
- How severe the break is
- How it was broken
- Where the break is
- How close to a joint the break is
- If the bone has been displaced
- Other conditions like arthritis or gout
Types of toe fractures.
There is more than one type of fracture that can occur. The two main types are:
Traumatic Fractures. Traumatic fractures are a result of an incident involving the toe, such as dropping something on it or kicking something. They can be minor or severe.
The symptoms happen straight after the event, and could include pain that doesn’t go away with rest, swelling, throbbing and redness. Most traumatic breaks will develop a dark bruise. These symptoms can persist for weeks if they are left untreated.
Stress fractures. Stress fractures don’t happen as a result of a single event, but build up over time. They are usually hairline fractures that come as a result of repeated stress on the bone. Sometimes stress fractures occur when the muscles become too weak to absorb impact, making toes vulnerable to impact and pressure, which leads them to eventually crack.
Stress fractures often hurt after walking or running, but the pain goes after rest. They are generally sore or tender when touched, and are swollen but without bruising.
Treating a broken toe
If you are diagnosed with a broken toe, there is a range of treatment options that doctors might recommend.
- Standard treatment for mild fractures, bruises and sprains is following R.I.C.E. – rest, ice, compression and elevation. These techniques reduce pain and help the toe to heal. If the break isn’t severe, it’s possible that this will be the only treatment you need – but let your doctor decide if this is the only treatment you need
- Strapping toes together or “buddy taping” to keep the broken toe supported
- A shoe or boot to help you walk without bending the your toe
- Resetting the bone where the break has caused the toe to become displaced
- Antibiotics or tetanus shot if the skin has been broken
- Surgery if the break is very severe and can’t be fixed suing another method.
There is such a wide variety of symptoms and a range of how severe a break could be that it is very important to get your injury assessed by a medical professional. Your GP is a great place to start. When it comes to a sore toe, it’s better safe than sorry. If your toe is giving you trouble, get it check by a professional, and get back on your feet in no time.