Broken Toe (cont.)
John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Broken toe facts
- Introduction to broken toe
- What are the causes of a broken toe?
- What are the symptoms of a broken toe?
- What are the possible complications of a broken toe?
- When should I call a doctor about a broken toe?
- How is a broken toe diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for a broken toe?
- Caring for a broken toe at home
- Medical treatment
- Other therapy (reduction, buddy taping, how to tape a broken toe, casting)
- What is the outlook for a broken toe?
- Find a local Orthopedic Surgeon in your town
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 broken big toe. This is because the big toe bears much of the weight of the body when walking or pivoting. A broken little toe may be painful but usually does not limit the ability to walk.
- Other symptoms include 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 can develop much later (weeks to years).
What are the possible complications of a broken toe?
- Nail injury: A collection of blood may develop underneath the toenail called a subungual hematoma. If it is large, it may need to be drained. To drain a subungual hematoma a doctor will make a small hole in the toenail to drain the blood. If the hematoma is very large or painful, the entire toenail may need to be removed. The injury may also result in a broken toenail that may need to be trimmed or removed.
- Compound fracture: Rarely, the broken bone in a toe fracture may stick out through the skin. This is called an open or compound fracture. Emergency medical treatment and surgery may be necessary.
- Arthritis: After the toe fracture heals, the person may still be left with arthritis, pain, stiffness, or even deformity.
- Nonunion/malunion: Sometimes, the fractured bone will not heal completely (called a nonunion) or will heal improperly (called a malunion). Rarely, surgery may be necessary to fix this problem.
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