When an individual ends up with a broken toe, it is usually due to a heavy object dropped on the toe. A stubbed toe, a missed step or a serious stress fracture from repetitive contact on a hard surface might result to a cracked toe.
A broken toe might not be evident, but the usual indication that it is a fracture includes intense pain and a perceivable popping or cracking sound when the small bone in the toe fractures.
Indications of a broken toe
Once a bone in the toes break, the pain is immediate and usually intense. The involved toe might become swollen and bruise. In case the damage is traumatic, the toe might appear deformed or crooked. In most cases, a broken toe can lead to inability to walk normally and pain while walking or putting on shoes.
When to consult a doctor
Any form of traumatic injury to the toes should be assessed by a doctor. If there is any tingling or numbness, bleeding or open wound, it is vital to seek medical care right away.
If there is an evident deformity, a doctor should be consulted so that an X-ray is performed to determine if the bone requires special care such as splinting or applying a cast. Most injuries that involve a broken toe are managed with a small-sized splint or even buddy tapping in which the affected toe is secured to the adjacent toe to keep it steady and supported as it heals.
A broken toe can be managed at home using the usual measures such as rest, application of ice and elevation. As the bone heals, it is vital to avoid walking or placing excess strain on the joint.
Apply an ice pack on the damaged toe several times in a day for no more than 20 minutes each time. Always keep the foot raised to reduce the swelling in the foot. Shoes that are built with a stiff or rigid sole is usually ideal to prevent movement of the joint while walking. The doctor might also provide over-the-counter pain medications for relief.
The usual complication of a broken toe is trauma to the toenail of the damaged toe. In most cases, the toenails might turn discolored, turn black and blue or even fall out. The toenail usually grows back normally but it is best to consult a doctor as it heals.
The doctor can help prevent any ingrown toenails or infection in the nailbed as the damaged toe heals. In case blood accumulates below the nail, the doctor might create a small-sized incision to allow the blood to escape.