Let’s talk broken toes. Doesn’t sound like a fun topic, right? Like the ankle sprains we talked about last week, there is a possibility that there was something klutzy involved with a broken toe. There are generally two types of toe fractures or broken toes. One is from repetitive stress, like when a runner suddenly ups his or her running and a bone cracks under the stress. This type of fracture is called a stress fracture. The other cause of a toe fracture is from trauma. This is the dreaded stubbed toe or having something fall on our toes. This type of fracture is called a traumatic fracture. I hate the sound of those. Somehow, I picture a hammer falling on my toes and breaking them. It would really hurt!
Symptoms of a Stress Fracture –
Pain with normal activity
Pain that goes away when you are resting but comes back when you are standing or being active.
Pain at the point of the stress fracture
Swelling but no bruising
Symptoms of a traumatic fracture –
You may have heard a “pop” at the time of the trauma.
The spot on your toe where the trauma occurred may hurt at first but then go away after a few hours
Your toe might be crooked or look different from your other toes
Your toe may show bruising and swelling the next day
Please note: As we talked about last week, just because you can walk, it doesn’t mean that you didn’t break your toe.
People will tell you all the time that there is nothing that you can do about a broken toe so you don’t need to go to the doctor. That is not true. First of all, you want to make sure that if you broke your toe that it is aligned correctly. If it isn’t, this can lead to chronic pain or deformity. If the joint is involved in the fracture, arthritis may form in the joint. Ignoring it can mean that you will need surgery to correct the issue.
The treatments for toe fractures include several options depending upon the break. Usually, you will be told to rest the foot as much as possible so that the toe can heal. It could be that the doctor will splint the toe to keep it in line for healing. Depending on how bad the break it, you may need to wear a rigid shoe to keep the toe in position. The doctor could also suggest “buddy taping” which is when you put a piece of gauze between the injured toe and the toe next to it and then tape the toes together. Buddy taping is not suggested for those with diabetes or peripheral neuropathy. While buddy taping sounds like an easy at home solution, it is not appropriate for all breaks and you should see the doctor to see if it is appropriate in your case.
In the case of a traumatic fracture, it could be that the toe nail on the broken toe was also involved in the trauma. A subdural hematoma can develop under the nail. If this happens, it can be very painful. The doctor can reduce the pressure of the blood build up under the nail to relive the painful pressure.
I hope that you avoid broken toes -especially traumatic fractures. It gives me the shivers to think of stubbing my toe or any of the other ways that you could fracture your toes.