A Broken Toe Guide

A broken toe is a common injury and although the treatment of a broken toe is simple, and there is often little pain, it will still leave you unable to walk properly in all but the mildest cases.

Due to the fact that people often don’t even realise they have broken a toe, letting the injury go untreated can lead to the bones mending badly. For a broken toe in child sized feet, letting it go untreated could lead to the foot becoming deformed as it grows.

Within this guide, you will find plenty of information about broken toe injuries, how they are caused, and how they are treated. If you suspect you may have broken a toe, even if there is little or no pain, you should always seek medical attention.

Selection a section:

What is a Broken Toe?

If you were to view broken toe images you would see that some seem to show no swelling or bruising. This is because a broken toe is generally a mild injury. Usually caused by dropping a heavy weight on the toe or stubbing it. Standard broken toe treatment for mild breaks is simply to tape it to the adjacent toe. Most broken toes will mend within six weeks.

Broken Toe Key Facts

Consider for a moment that the average person will walk somewhere around 100,000 miles in their lifetime. Every step of the way, the toes pay a vital role in keeping you balanced. Athletes may log three to four times this distance during their life, and as they run, they are putting up to four times their body weight on their toes.

So, it comes as no surprise that a broken toe although often fairly painless, is still going to prevent you from getting around on your feet properly in all but the mildest cases.

Why is it that a broken toe is such a common injury though? Well, take a look at the X-ray of human feet below. Your foot is an incredibly complex thing. It contains around 25% of all the bones in your body, with the toes themselves making up for around half of this number. The chance of damaging one of the many bones in your toes is high whenever you suffer an injury to your foot.



What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Toe?

For minor breaks of a toe bone, the injury may go almost unnoticed. Initially, there will be a sharp pain, which will quickly diminish. Unless the toe swells up or the pain is consistent, there is a danger of ignoring the injury.

Oddly enough, unlike just about every other broken bone injury vs a sprain injury, a sprained big toe vs. broken big toe will usually be more painful. Our bodies are designed around the fact that breaking a toe from time to time is a largely unavoidable event, and therefore it is quite a painless injury in many cases. If you have ever badly stubbed your big toe, once the pain goes away you might ask yourself is my big toe broken? As there may be no visual clue and no continuous pain to tell you there is a problem. Usually, though, broken toe symptoms will be:

  • Extreme pain in the toe itself, or the foot in general (as it can be hard to exactly pinpoint pain in the foot due to the fact we have over 8,000 nerves in this part of our body).
  • Tenderness of the foot, and general pain when you put weight on it. This will lead to difficulty in walking.
  • Swelling of the toes, or even several toes.
  • Heavy bruising of the toe itself, or if the broken bone is in the upper part of the toe, the bruising may be on the top of the foot.
  • For a very serious broken or fractured toe, the toe itself may stand out oddly at an angle or pointing straight up or straight down.

If you think you have broken your toe, or even just injured it, you should seek medical attention. The treatment for a broken toe is often identical to the treatment for a simply damaged one.

What Are the Most Common Causes of a Broken Toe?

Surprisingly, due to the flexibility of our toes, they are quite difficult to damage in an accident. If for example, your foot is subject to trauma during a car accident, it will usually be another bone in the foot or the ankle which will break, as the toes act like tiny shock absorbers for themselves.

  • By far the most common cause of a broken big toe joint is stubbing the toe. When we walk, our legs act like a pendulum, with the foot moving at a great speed as we step forward. When we stub our toe when walking or running, we hit the toe head on, and it is unable to tilt or swivel out of the way on one of its joints. Also, the toes on the outer edge of the foot are more frequently broken, a broken 4th toe is the most common of all.
  • The second most common way that a broke toe occurs, is through dropping a heavy weight on the foot. When we drop something on our foot, our natural reaction is to quickly try to pull our foot away from the falling item. Frequently, we are not quick enough and our toes carry the brunt of the falling weight.

How to Get a Free Expert Orthopaedic Assessment for Your Broken Bone Report

If you have broken your toe, then you need to know that you are receiving the best treatment, that is helping you to recover as fast as possible.

You will have been given a broken bone report (including X-rays and the doctor’s report on the break). You may be eligible to get a free private orthopaedic assessment of this broken bone report by a professional in the field.

If you give us a call, we can let you know quickly whether you are entitled to a free expert orthopaedic assessment of your broken bone report.

How is a Broken Toe Treated?

To answer the question what can a doctor do for a broken toe? then we could say that for minor fractures of the toe, only simple treatment is available. Such as strapping the toe to a neighbouring one until it has healed. Armed with this knowledge, you might ask yourself should I go to hospital for a broken toe? Even if you don’t think you have a serious injury, you should still visit the hospital to get your broken toe treated.

Treatment for broken toe injuries can be carried out at home in mild cases. If you are treating your own broken toe, then the tips below will help:

  • First of all, you need to support the broken toe. Take a piece of cotton wool and put it between the broken toe and the one adjacent to it. Then take some surgical tape (or a sticking plaster if you don’t have any surgical tape) and tape them together.
  • For the first few days after your broken toe injury, keep your foot raised, as this will help to reduce swelling and minimise pain. Support your foot on a pillow and raised above the height of your heart if you can.
  • To help reduce swelling even quicker, you can use a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel as a crude ice pack. Apply this to the toe for around 15 minutes every 3-4 hours.
  • When it comes to giving the answer to can you move a broken toe? You may be able to right after the injury, it will depend on the severity. Try gently to stand, and if this does not produce pain, then try a slow walk. If there is considerable pain, then stop immediately and try again after several more days of resting the toe.
  • You can take consumer grade painkillers such as paracetamol to help with the pain. They probably won’t manage all of the pain, but they should make it bearable. If you need more effective painkillers then visit your doctor.
  • Once you begin walking on your toe, wear shoes with a thick, stiff sole to help support your toes as they bend. Eventually, the pain will disappear, and the injury will have healed enough to let you walk normally again.

When to see your doctor about a broken toe:

If you have been treating your broken toe at home, you will need to keep an eye on it, as it may get worse. If any of the situations below occur, you should see your doctor:

  • The pain gets worse over a period of days, and over-the-counter painkillers are no longer sufficient.
  • The swelling and bruising don’t begin to dissipate after a few days.
  • You have a cut or gash close to the broken toe that needs cleaning.
  • You suffer from a medical condition such as Peripheral Arterial Disease or Diabetes which affects the blood flow to the foot and could cause problems with the healing process of your broken toe.
  • You are still experiencing pain, and unable to walk after three weeks.

When to go to the hospital about your broken toe:

In certain situations, you will definitely need to visit the Accident & Emergency Department at your local hospital rather than treat your broken toe at home. The following circumstances are all reasons to head straight to the hospital to have your fractured toe treated:

  • Your broken toe is the result of a serious injury sustained in an accident such as a car crash. There may be additional injuries that need treating.
  • It is your big toe which has been broken. The big toe, with its much larger bones, needs special attention in order to make sure it heals correctly.
  • The lower part of your foot or your toes have a pins and needles feeling, or are completely numb, or have gone cold.
  • The skin of your toe has changed colour, but it is not bruising.
  • Your toe is out of shape or sticking up at an odd angle. It will need to be realigned so that it can heal properly.
  • You have severe pain at the tip of the toe, this could indicate a build-up of blood under the nail.

Hospital treatment for a broken toe:

If your toe has been badly fractured, you will have to be treated in hospital. The general broken toe treatment is as follows:

  • The first thing that will be done when you visit the hospital to have your broken toe treated, is that an X-ray will be taken to find out how bad the break is, and which bones it affects.
  • If the bones need to be put back into alignment so that can heal properly, the doctor will attempt to do this with his hands. If he cannot do it with his hands alone, you may have to undergo surgery to reset the bones. This may involve the bones being pinned in place temporarily while they knit back together.
  • For a broken toe which has caused swelling and pooling of blood under the nail, then this build-up of blood will need to be drained. In some severe cases, the nail may be removed entirely.
  • If the big toe has been broken, a special broken toe shoe or boot may be used to support the big toe while it heals. In very severe cases, a plaster cast might be used instead.
  • Once treatment is complete, you will be given a set of crutches to help you get about while your broken bone heals. You may also be given a short course of painkillers to get you through the first few days until the pain subsides.

What Free Private Treatment Can I Qualify For?

If you have recently broken a toe, you may be eligible for some form of free private medical treatment. Private treatment will help you recover better and faster from your injury.

Eligibility depends entirely on where you live. If you give us a quick call, we can help you to find out if free private treatment for a broken big toe is available in your area. It will take us less than a minute to find out for you.

Is There Any Other Good Treatment I Can Get for Free?

Depending upon your particular circumstances, you could well be able to claim medical treatment or supplies free. For example, a broken toe boot to help you recover quicker or some custom-made crutches that fit you better than NHS standard issue ones. If you would like to know if you could get some free medical treatment for your broken toe, then please just call us, we can let you know if we think you could be able to claim some.

How Long Does a Broken Toe Take to Heal?

In order to answer questions such as how long does it take for a broken pinky toe to heal? then it is important to understand that broken pinky toe healing time is going to be shorter in general than recovering from a severely fractured big toe. Yet all bones in the body take a minimum of four weeks to knit back together, and six weeks or more to heal completely.

This means that broken toe recovery time is typically going to be four to six weeks. However, many broken toes will heal enough to have you back on your feet within a couple of weeks, with almost no pain at all.

How Can I Recover Safer and Possibly Faster?

The road to a faster recovery of a broken toe could be shortened if you had access to some free private physiotherapy.

Many people are eligible for private physio sessions to assist them back to work after a broken toe injury. If you give us a call, we can let you know within 30 seconds whether you are able to claim it yourself.

What are the Possible Complications with a Broken Toe?

A broken toe is generally a fairly trivial injury. Many people who have stubbed pinky toe will have broken it and suffered nothing more than a few minutes of pain. With a broken toe little pain leads to people ignoring their injury or even not realising they have been injured. That being said, there are some complications that can set in if a broken toe is not treated correctly.

  • Sometimes, a broken toe causes tissue damage underneath the nail, and blood can build up underneath. If this is not treated, it can lead to severe pain and eventually infection.
  • If a broken toe has not be realigned properly when it was broken (which is common for home treated injuries), then the toe will heal out of shape, and will generally be weaker, meaning it is easier to break again.

Do You Think Your Doctor Might Have Missed Something About Your Injury?

If you were to be worried that a doctor has not given proper treatment for a broken toe what to do about it? Doctors can and do make mistakes from time to time. Broken toe NHS treatment is often minimal at best, due to this being a trivial injury in many cases. In order to check you are being treated correctly, you need to educate yourself, and these websites below will give you more detailed information about a broken toe injury than this short guide.

NHS – Broken Toe Information
Using Paracetamol as a Self-Administered Painkiller
Sings of Cyanosis

Are There Any Long-Term Health Issues Caused by a Broken Toe?

A broken toe is often a minor injury, so minor that people have to step back and actually ask themselves is my toe broken? There may be little pain. Seldom is this kind of injury severe enough to require a broken toe cast. Because of this, it is often the case that a broken toe is ignored, or even completely overlooked. In most cases this is a harmless event, the toe will heal all by itself. However, for people who repeatedly break the same toe, and fail to get it properly treated, the toe itself, and sometimes adjacent toes will slowly become deformed. They will also be much weaker, as they will have never had the chance to heal correctly. Eventually, this can lead to problems with balance and walking in general.

Contact Us to Find Out if You Qualify for Free Private Treatment

You may be able to claim some form of free private medical treatment or support as you recover from your broken toe. This could be something practical such as a broken toe boot or something less tangible such as a free orthopaedic assessment made by a professional, based on your broken bone report.

If you would like to find out if you are eligible for any of this free private health care for your broken toe, call us now on 020 3870 4868 and we will tell you within a couple of minutes if we believe you can claim free private healthcare.