How to Treat A Broken Toe?

Broken Toe

A broken toe can make life miserable as it may not allow to walk or even sit still. It is a condition that needs to be addressed immediately to let the life get to normal. To learn more about the symptoms, treatment and remedies to treat a broken toe, read through this HealthSpectra post.

Broken Toe: Breaks or fractures on the toes cause broken toe condition. Commonly injured areas of the foot are toes or phalanges.

Major Symptoms Of A Broken Toe Include:

  1. Swelling, pain or swiftness in the toes following an injury.
  2. It may also get difficult to walk, particularly when the big toe breaks. This is because maximum body weight falls on the big toe while walking. A broken little toe may not restrict or interfere with walking, even though it is painful.
  3. Other major symptoms include:
  • Bruising of the skin around the injured toe
  • A bruised toe
  • Deformed or bent appearance of the toe
  • Acne of the broken toe
  • Displacement of the broken toe
  • Cold, numb, tingling, or unusual sensation

Symptoms of possible compound fracture include:

  • wounds, bleeding, or drainage
  • Blue or gray colored skin near the injury
  • Angulated appearance

Other complications may develop within minutes of injury or may take years to develop. Many problems may develop due to the broken toe.Possible complications of a broken toe include: nail injury, compound fracture, arthritis, Nonunion/malunion. Nonunion is the fractured bone not healing completely, while malunion is healing improperly. Rarely, surgery may be necessary to fix this problem.

Common Causes For Broken Toes Include:

Injury or trauma to the foot due to stubbing the toe or dropping a heavy object on it.

People with weak bones are at increased risk.

Prolonged repetitive movements in certain sports.

Wearing misfit shoes or other footwear

When to Visit A Doctor?

A broken toe need not interfere with walking all the times. Hence, manay neglect the condition. But it is better to fix  doctor’s appointment in case of any injury to the toe. Or just go to n emergency ward to get it checked.

Seek immediate medical attention if,

The toe pain increases progressively or the analgesics re not working. Or

The redness or soreness increases

Splint or cast is damaged

How To Diagnose a Broken Toe

The doctor conducts physical examination and finds out the medical history or primary diagnosis.

The patient needs to answer questions like

  • When and how the injury happened?
  • How severe is the pain when gentle pressure is applied on the toes
  • An X-ray may be required to evaluate the condition of the toe (if it is broken or fractured):
  • An MRI may be required to diagnose the injuries that occurs due to stress factors or repetitive movements.

The doctor’s tem may include a primary care provider (PCP) i.e.. A physician or a pediatrician, who will then refer to an orthopedist or orthopedic surgeon, specializes in disorders of the musculoskeletal system, or a podiatrist. Radiologists can read MRI or X-ray.

How To Treat a Broken Toe?

Both home care and medical care are required to treat a broken toe.

Homecare to cure a broken toe: Rest, ice and elevation are important to cure a broken toe at home.

Rest –  Strenuous exercises like walking and prolonged standing are to be avoided. It is important to avoid applying weight on the injured area, until it heals. Crutches or special shoes may help.

Ice – Place ice cubes in a bag and apply on the injured area for around 20 minutes every day for every few hours. Protect the skin by putting a towel between the ice and the skin.

Elevation: Put your feet above the heart level to decrease the pain and swelling. Prop up the foot under the pillows particularly while sleeping.

Medical treatment for a broken toe: The fracture may have to be corrected by based on the severity and the location of the fracture. It may need to be casted, reduced or splinted.

A Tetanus shot  as well as antibiotic treatment may be required in case of an open wound near the injured toe. A surgery may be required in rare cases.

Medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) may relieve the pain. A stronger pain medication may be prescribed in case of a severe pain.

Buddy tape for a broken toe

Buddy tape for a broken toe: The doctor may need just a tape in case of a minor or small fracture. The injured toe can be taped with the adjacent one or the support. This procedure is named buddy taping. Check with your doctor, if you wish to remove it for bathing.


  1. Put a piece of gauze or cotton in between the toes to avoid the formation of blisters in between the skin.
  2. Using tape, loosely tape the injured toe to the next one.

Casting a broken toe: Casting (surgery) is not generally required for a simple toe fracture. It is only required in case of many small toe fractures, a joint fracture or injury, broken bone on the foot.

Reduction for a broken toe: The doctor may have to reduce or set it to normal if the toe fracture is displaced or rotated or the toe is dislocated. Following reduction, a splint may be applied to the broken toe to hold it to normal while healing.

How Long Does It Take For A Broken Toe To Heal?

It depends on the extent to which the wound is healing. However, the healing time for a broken toe is six weeks. If it goes beyond six weeks, another X-ray may be required or the injury has to be re-checked.

In most cases, simple toe fractures heal well without any problems. But a severe fracture may be at risk for developing arthritis, stiffness, pain, and possibly even a deformity.

Thus, it is imperative to take prompt measures in case of a broken or injured toe. Negligence may lead to further complications.