How many times have you heard it said, when someone thinks they may have broken a toe, “No sense going to the doctor, there’s nothing they can do for a broken toe.” That’s a myth! In fact, not treating a fractured toe correctly can lead to serious complications including: a deformity of the bone structure which may limit mobility or make it hard to find comfortable shoes, arthritis, chronic pain, and possibly long-term dysfunction requiring surgery to correct. At Blue Ridge Foot & Ankle Clinic, we want you to know the facts about toe fractures. Toe fractures, or breaks fall into two categories.
Also known as acute fractures, traumatic fractures are the result of a direct impact or blow, such as dropping something heavy on your toe or stubbing it really hard—you usually know when it happens. You may hear a breaking sound at the time the incident occurs and have serious pain on impact that lasts a few hours (the pain may go away after several hours but that does not mean the toe isn’t fractured). There may be bruising and swelling the next day and the toe may appear misshapen or out of place.
Stress fractures may not be so obvious. These small, hairline breaks have symptoms that can come and go. There may be pain at the site when touched and swelling of a particular area without bruising. Pain usually comes after activity but goes away when resting. Oftentimes stress fractures result when athletes over do it and try to increase their activity level too quickly. They can also be caused by improper footwear, deformities in foot structure, or certain diseases like osteoporosis.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Just because you can still walk on your foot is not proof that your toe isn’t broken. If you experience any of the symptoms above, it’s important that one of our board certified podiatrists examine your toe promptly. Dr. Kevin P. Murray and Dr. Stewart M. Chang will first conduct a thorough exam of your toe and foot, which may include digital x-rays. Depending on the type and severity of the fracture, several treatment options are available:
- Splinting the toe to keep it in a fixed position until it heals
- “Buddy taping” the broken to another toe is sometimes appropriate
- Wearing rigid or stiff-soled shoes to protect the toe from further damage and keep it in the proper position
- Surgery may be required if the break is severe or the bone is badly displaced.
If you believe you may have a fractured toe, don’t delay. Make an appointment today at one of our two conveniently located offices in Fishersville or Charlottesville.