Perhaps one of the easiest injuries that most of us commonly suffer is a stubbed toe. You may be walking in socks or bare feet, moving quickly or even slowly, and, all of a sudden, your toe hits a chair or table, or something else in your house. Or perhaps, you are carrying something or are near something which drops on your toe—and even with shoes on your feet, the pain is likely to be excruciating.
Of course, it hurts because our toes are very sensitive, full of nerve-endings. But how do you know if your injury is more serious than a stubbed or bruised toe? How do you know if your toe might be broken? Keep in mind that there are lots of bones and joints in your foot—in fact, one quarter of our bones. This means there are many bones to injure and break.
Is Your Toe Broken?
After a stubbed toe, you might expect the pain to last for an hour, maybe even longer. But if it lasts longer than a couple of hours, there is a good chance that your toe is broken. There are other symptoms that will also suggest a broken toe, and my list moves from the less to more extreme symptoms:
- Prolonged pain at the point of impact, which may last for several hours. Even if it goes away, that should not be interpreted as a sign of all clear, no injury.
- Similarly, do not be fooled by such common wisdom as, if you can walk on your toe, it is not broken. That is untrue.
- Swelling, but not bruising may sometimes be the result of a stress fracture. You may feel no pain until you put weight on the toe.
- Bruising, swelling, and/or discoloration of the toe and/or nail.
- Such obvious signs of injury as an abnormal shape or look to your toe.
If you are worried that your toe is broken, you might take these steps in interim before you can see your doctor or podiatrist:
- Rest your toe, avoid putting weight on it, and elevate it as much as possible.
- Ice your toe for 15-20 minutes every hour or two.
Do Not Wait—Consult Your Podiatrist
You will probably know when to consult your podiatrist, but please do not wait. If your toe is crooked or a bone looks to be (or is) protruding, you will want to make an appointment with your Lansdale foot doctor. If your pain is severe or your toe has been swollen for an extended period, you will want to make an appointment with your Lansdale podiatrist. Untreated fractures can lead to such unwanted consequences such as arthritis.
Many broken toes may take four to six weeks to heal, but for some the healing process may take up to 10 weeks. Here are some of the steps that we may take to help the healing process:
- Splinting an injured toe or taping that toe to another toe, to keep it in fixed position.
- Wearing rigid or corrective footwear which will protect the toe and ensure its proper positioning.
Depending on the case, your toe may require surgery. But only a consult with your Lansdale foot doctor and surgeon can determine that.
Kansas City Foot Specialists