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
- 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?
- Broken Toe At A Glance
- Find a local Orthopedic Surgeon in your town
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. 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.
Learn more about: Tylenol
Other therapy (reduction, buddy taping, how to tape a broken toe, casting)
- If the toe fracture is displaced (the two ends of the broken toe bone are
out of place) or rotated (the toe is pointing in the wrong direction), the
doctor may need to reduce it, or set the broken toe back into place.
- Sometimes local anesthesia may be needed to numb the
toe before it is put back into place.
- After a reduction, a splint will be applied to the broken toe to hold it in place while it heals.
- If there is a minor or small fracture in a bone of one of the small toes, a
doctor may only need to tape the injured toe to the one next to it for support.
This treatment is called buddy taping.
- If the toe is buddy taped, it is usually safe to bathe, and then replace the tape afterward, however, check with the doctor prior to removing the tape to bathe.
How to tape a broken toe
- Put a small piece of cotton or gauze between the toes that are taped together. This prevents the skin between the toes from developing sores or blisters. Using as little tape as necessary, loosely tape the broken toe to the toe next to it. If the toes are taped too tightly it can cause additional swelling and may cut off circulation to the injured toe.
- A cast is usually not required for a simple toe fracture. A hard-soled,
sturdy, and supportive shoe should be worn. A doctor may give the patient a special shoe to
wear if the foot or toes are very swollen.
- A cast (or surgery) may be needed if the big toe is broken, a fracture involves a joint, several small toe fractures occur at once, or if a bone in the foot or leg is broken in addition to the toe.
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