The Woe of a Broken Toe


Dear Foot Blogger Chick,
Wow, I stubbed my toe last night and I actually saw stars. This morning is it purple and so swollen that I can’t put on my shoes. I was reading about it and I saw something about “buddy taping.” Should I do that?
Dear Stubby,
There seems to be a feeling that there is nothing a doctor can do for a broken toe. That is just not correct. I was talking to the doctors at Evanston Podiatric Surgeons the other day and they were telling me that people often wait several weeks before coming in with a broken toe. Due to the delay in treatment, more damage can be caused to the toe.
It is better to go in right away and get it checked out – especially if it is your big toe. The big toe is particularly prone to having problems if broken.  When you go in, they will x-ray your toes and see if there is a fracture. If there is, they can make sure that the bones are lining up correctly so that the healing can begin with the bones in the right place. If the bones are not lined up correctly, they can give you some local anesthic and align the bones. It may be that you will be given a boot to wear so that you are walking on a solid surface which will help the bones heal properly.
I seem to stub my toe at night more than any other time. If you cannot get to the doctor’s office immediately, you should start RICE. You know, my old friend
If you tolerate it, you can also take some ibuprofen or acetaminophen for the pain.
Buddy taping is the concept of taping the broken toe to the toe next to it for support. This is not necessarily the right thing to do and you need to see if it is what is recommended for your particular fracture. While I am the first to try and practice medicine without a license, this is one of those instances where you should leave it to the professionals to decide the best course of treatment. You will be walking for a long time and you don’t want it to hurt. Also you don’t want to lose time in healing because you did the wrong thing.
Now, if your toe is bleeding, it is time to hightail it to the emergency room. This can indicate problems that need to be seen right away. Believe it or not, you could possibly need surgery to get your toe aligned and healthy again.
Depending upon how you injured your toe, there could be blood under the toe nail. This can be painful and the doctor can relieve the pain.
Injuring your toes is not something to ignore. It can be very painful and if not checked, can lead to bigger problems that will keep you off your fee t longer than if you had gone directly to the doctor.
Come on, you want to be back up and in those shoes faster rather than slower so go to your friendly local podiatrist and have it checked out.
Your pal,
Foot Blogger Chick
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send them to or leave them in the comment section below. I am not a doctor but I check with one before answering questions.
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