Toe Fracture Causes And Symptoms
A toe fracture is, of course, a break in the bone of the toe. Visiting your doctor for a broken toe is not a must, but it is a good idea since the doctor will show you the best way to immobilize it and recommend some changes you need to make in order to heal it faster.
A broken toe will usually heal in 4 to 6 weeks, and if you notice it is taking longer than that, you should definitely seek medical help. You should also seek immediate care if:
- The pain starts to intensify
- You experience episodes of severe, sharp pain
- Your toe becomes numb or weak
Also, your doctor will probably do an X-ray, to see how the toe is healing.
Causes And Symptoms
Most common cause of a fractured toe is trauma or injury. The position of the toes makes them likely to be injured, whether they are stubbed or you drop a heavy object on them.
Prolonged repetitive motion can also cause problems – tiny stress fractures called hairline fractures.
And the most common signs and symptoms of a toe fracture are:
- Inability to bend or even move your toe
- Intensifying pain when walking, running or putting any sort of strain to the toe
- A feeling of stiffness in the toe
- Bruised and swollen skin around the injury (bleeding if the skin is damaged as well)
- But keep in mind that the toe may also appear normal even though the bones are broken or out of place
How To Diagnose It?
First, I would like to point out that you should avoid making any sort of self-diagnosis, based solely on the information you can read online. I`m not saying the information you will read is wrong, but diagnosing an illness (or an injury in this case) is a serious matter and you should leave it to your doctor.
Your caregiver will first do a physical examination and ask you some questions regarding the injury. He may also order an X-ray of your toe just to make sure.
Treatment will normally depend on the severity of the injury and on which toe is broken. These are some of the things that will help you deal with the pain and make your fracture heal as fast as possible:
- Icing, elevation ad rest – this is the first line of defense and a good starting point for further treatment. Rather than placing an ice bag (or a frozen bag of peas) directly onto your skin, you should wrap it in a towel (or any old piece of cloth). Place it on your toe and hold for about 15-20 minutes, couple times per day. You should also elevate your toe, ideally above the level of your heart – this will reduce the blood flow to your foot and decrease the swelling and pain. And of course, rest! Avoid movement, exercise, running, walking etc. for as much as you can until your toe is fully healed.
- Buddy taping – this is the preferred technique for immobilizing a broken toe. You will need some bondage to put between the broken toe and its buddy, some bondage to wrap both the toes and adhesive tape to tape them together. If you apply tape on bare skin it can cause irritation.
- Special shoes – in most cases, getting specialized shoes is not necessary, but you certainly can acquire wider shoes with stiffer soles which will limit foot movement and protect your toe while walking.
- Antibiotics – they may be given to you to prevent an infection.
- Over-the-counter meds –most widely spread over-the-counter medication is ibuprofen, and it will help with pain management. It can be purchased in most drug stores, but before getting it, you should consult your doctor, especially if he prescribed some other medication.
- Tetanus shot – tetanus shot might be given to patients with torn skin, to prevent infection.
Reduction is required only in most severe cases where the bones are so badly broken (or dislocated) that they need to be lined up properly, to be able to fully heal. Surgery goes hand in hand with reduction.
In these severe cases pins and screws might also be needed to put the bones in proper places. They will only be present during the healing process and, once the bones are healed properly, they will be removed.