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Broken Toes

Broken Toes

• Broken toes are often caused by trauma or injury. Prolonged repetitive movements can cause a type of broken toe called stress or hairline fracture.
• Symptoms of a broken toe include pain, swelling, stiffness, bruising, deformity, and difficultly walking.
• Possible complications of a broken toe include nail injury, compound fracture, infection, deformity, or arthritis.
• Seek immediate medical care if you suspect an open fracture of the toe; if there is bleeding; cold, numb, or tingling sensation; if the toe appears deformed or is pointing in the wrong direction; or blue or gray color to the injured area.
• A broken toe is diagnosed with a medical examination, which may include X-rays.

• To help decrease pain and swelling in a broken toe, elevate the foot, ice the injury, and stay off the foot.
• Depending on the severity of the fracture, the toe may need to be put back into place (reduced), and some compound toe fractures may require surgery.
• Pain from a broken toe can usually be controlled with over-the-counter pain medication.
• Buddy taping (taping the toe to an adjacent toe can be used to splint a fractured toe.
• Most broken toes heal without complications in six weeks.

Symptoms of a Broken Foot or Toe

Signs and symptoms of a broken foot or toe may include pain, limping, tenderness, swelling, bruising, and putting weight on the affected foot may be too painful.

What is a broken toe?

A commonly injured area of the foot is the small bones of the toes (phalanges). There are 26 bones in the foot; 19 are bones in the forefoot (five metatarsals and 14 phalanges). Trauma and injury to the foot often cause one or more of the toe bones to break (fracture).

What are the symptoms of a broken toe?

• Pain, swelling, or stiffness will occur in a broken toe following injury. It may be difficult to walk due to the pain, especially with a fractured big toe. This is because the big toe bears much of the weight of the body during walking or pivoting. A broken little toe (pinky toe) may be painful but usually does not limit the ability to walk.
• Other symptoms include
     ○ a bruised toe,
• bruising of the skin around
     ○ the toe, and
• a bent or deformed appearance of the toe if the broken
     ○ bone is out of place.
• Other problems may develop as a result of the fractured toe. Complications can occur immediately after the injury (minutes to days) or develop much later (weeks to years).
• People with weakened bones

What are the causes of a broken toe?

Trauma or injury such as stubbing the toe (jammed toe) or dropping a heavy object on the toe may cause a broken toe. The location of the toes (at the front part of the feet) makes them the most likely part of the foot to be injured.

Prolonged repetitive movements, as in certain sports activities, can cause a type of broken toe called a stress fracture or hairline fracture. People with weakened bones (osteoporosis or other disorders) may develop stress fractures from merely wearing improper shoes.

Broken Toes

When to Call a doctor if I think you have a broken toe

Many people think that if they can walk on an injured toe, it is not broken. This may not be the case. It is common to break a toe bone and still be able to walk on it.

Go to a hospital’s emergency department if you have the following signs or symptoms.
• Any symptoms of a possible open (compound) fracture which include open wounds, bleeding, or drainage from near the broken toe
• Cold, numb, tingling, or unusual sensation in the toes
• Blue or gray colored skin near the injury
• If the injured toe appears deformed or is pointing in the wrong direction (angulated)

Call a doctor if any of the following occur:
• If the broken toe pain worsens or new strain is not relieved by pain medication
• Sores, redness, or open wounds near the injured toe
• Bruising or bleeding under the toenail that causes significant pain
• A cast or splint is damaged or broken

How can you tell if you have a broken toe?

Seek medical evaluation soon after the injury to ensure proper treatment and healing.
• A doctor will ask questions to determine how the toe was injured, examine the injured toe, and possibly check for other injuries (for example, sprains).
• A doctor may take an X-ray to evaluate if the toe is broken or fractured. X-rays are not always necessary to diagnose a broken toe, especially if it is in one of the smaller toes.
• Stress fractures, due to overuse or repetitive movement, may need an MRI to be diagnosed.


By reading this website, you acknowledge that you are responsible for your own health decisions. The information throughout this medical website is not intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided is intended for general information regarding our Podiatry clinic in Brooklyn and the best Foot and Ankle Care Services. If you are interested in finding out more, avoid worrisome self-diagnosis, please contact our Podiatry specialist for a personal consultation. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition.