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.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
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 is the treatment for a broken toe?
A broken toe can be cared for at home by decreasing the pain and swelling using rest, ice, and elevation; allowing the fracture to heal properly. In certain situations, a broken toe may need medical care such as maneuvering the toe back into place (reduction), casting, or splinting the toe.
Caring for a broken toe at home
Most minor toe injuries can be treated at home. If a person is unsure or suspects a fracture, seek medical attention. The following can be done to help decrease pain and swelling from a broken toe and to help the fracture heal properly.
- Rest: Avoid strenuous exercise, prolonged standing, or walking. Crutches may be needed, or a special shoe or boot to wear when walking to avoid putting weight on the fracture while it heals.
- Ice: Put ice in a plastic bag and apply it to the injury for 15-20 minutes every 1-2 hours for the first 1-2 days. Place a towel between the skin and the ice to protect the skin. Frozen peas or corn can also be used to ice the broken toe they may conform to the fractured area better than ice.
- Elevation: To decrease swelling and pain, keep the foot raised above the level of the heart as much and as often as possible. Prop the foot up as much as possible (for example use several pillows), especially when sleeping. Reclining in a lounge chair is also helpful.
Depending on the location and severity of the toe fracture, the fracture may need to be put back into place (reduced) and splinted or casted. Because it has a significant weight bearing role, fractures of the great toe are often more serious and more likely to require reduction or surgical treatment. If there is an open wound near the injured toe, a tetanus shot and antibiotic medication may also be necessary.
If there is an open (compound) fracture of the toe, surgery may be necessary in some cases, and antibiotics will be given. This type of fracture should be seen by a doctor immediately.
Usually only acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) is needed for pain. For a severe fracture, the doctor may prescribe a stronger pain medication.
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