Article by Dr. Misako McLeod, DPM
Most of us have slammed, dropped, or kicked an object so hard that we actually thought we might have broken our toe. Many people don’t seek treatment because they think there’s no treatment for a fractured toe, or that if they can walk that means they don’t have a broken toe. This is a common misconception and failure to seek treatment can cause serious problems down the line.
An injured toe should be x-rayed to evaluate for fractures and whether those fractures extended into a joint surface (intra-articular fractures). Some fractures are well aligned and require splinting and placement into a solid postoperative type of shoe that prevents flexion of the toe. Its important to be placed in a rigid soled shoe to prevent motion around the fracture site and thus preventing the bone from not healing (non-union).
Next, its important that the toe be splinted properly by a trained specialist. Often times I have patient who attempted self treatment and have splinted the toe in the wrong position or to the incorrect adjacent toe which can worsen the condition.
Additionally, some fractures also involve the soft tissue structures around the joint, and the toe may be maligned and dislocated and may need to be manually reduced into better position. Sometimes these dislocations can be very subtle to the untrained eye, so evaluation by a foot and ankle specialist is crucial.
Rarely, do toe fractures require surgery, but surgery is offered if necessary, and is an outpatient procedure.
Other considerations that one should consider is to avoid the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen, Aleve, etc as these medications have been shown in studies to reduce fracture healing. Tylenol and other narcotics are more appropriate to control pain as they do not interfere with bone healing.
It’s important to control swelling of the fractured toe and therefore icing the area to decreased swelling (edema) is important.
Regardless of the treatment, it’s important to have your toe injury evaluated by a foot and ankle specialist.
Dr. Misako McLeod’s office provided same day appointments for injuries. Call 1-844-442-FOOT for an appointment.