So you just stubbed your toe on the coffee table and its turning black and blue. Ugh! It could be broken! What do you do now?

Well, toes may be little, but they can produce massive pain when they get injured. If you’ve ever dropped something heavy on your foot, or gotten your toe run over with a shopping cart in sandals, you probably know the feeling well.

Toe injuries may not always be the easiest problems to diagnose on your own. It hurts, obviously, but how do you know if it is broken, or if it’s just a severe sprain? And does it make a difference?

Ultimately, it takes an x-ray to know for sure, but there are some signs that tend to indicate a break. Breaks tend to be more painful than sprains, with greater swelling and much more dark discoloration and bruising. If the toe looks deformed or out of place, that’s a really good sign you’re dealing with a broken or dislocated toe.

Any time pain is severe, you have trouble walking, or you just don’t see any improvement after a couple of days, there’s no reason to risk it—get it checked out. A lot of people think there’s nothing that can be done for a broken toe, but that’s just not true!

Obviously, you’ll want to stay off your feet as much as possible to give the toe a chance to heal. These can take up to two months to feel normal! Depending on the location and severity of the break, you may also need additional care. This can include:

  • “Buddy taping” a broken toe to a healthy neighbor.
  • Manually repositioning a displaced toe under local anesthetic. This is called “reduction,” and it usually does not require any incisions.
  • Bandaging or casting a toe so that bones remain in place during the healing process.
  • Prescribing a walking boot or stiff-bottomed shoe to protect the toe and prevent it from flexing during the healing process.
  • Surgery. This is usually only needed for the most severe dislocation injuries.

Most broken toes will heal well without complication in about eight weeks or so. That said, a broken toe that heals improperly can lead to chronic deformity, pain, post-traumatic arthritis, and a greater chance to need surgery long-term, so you should always take treatment seriously. If you think your toe might be broken, please see your favorite podiatrists at Foot and Ankle Associates of North Texas right away! Set up an appointment at one of our DFW area offices by clicking here or by calling (817) 416-6155 today.

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