Picture the scene. Late one night, you’re making the trip from the bedroom to the kitchen for a little midnight snack, when suddenly… SMACK!
You forgot you moved that table away from the wall to play cards last night. You didn’t see it in the darkness. And now your toe is paying the price.
Toe injuries hurt like the dickens, especially if the trauma is serious enough to cause a sprain or a fracture. When you go through an incident like this, you might be a little bit confused about what you should do next. How can you tell if the injury is serious? Should you see a doctor? Can anything actually be done for toe injuries?
First things first. If your toe simply hurts, but nothing looks too out of place visually—it isn’t bent or disfigured, there’s no bruising, you still have full range of motion, etc.—and the pain isn’t overwhelming, feel free to try some good-old-fashioned home care at first. Put your feet up, go easy on activity, take a few over-the-counter painkillers, and see if your situation improves within a few hours or days.
If, however, pain is more severe, or you see any evidence that your toe might be broken—swelling, bruising, discoloration, stiffness, deformity, or difficulty walking being the most notable symptoms—we strongly advise you to see a foot specialist immediately. Many people believe that broken toes can’t be treated, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if broken toes aren’t treated promptly and properly, they may lead to infections, early-onset arthritis, deformity, and other long-term complications.
Broken toes usually do not require surgery, but often require more than simply taking a few painkillers until the symptoms get better. Your doctor may need to manually manipulate broken bones back into alignment, a process called reduction. Methods to protect and immobilize a toe may also be considered—for example, buddy taping, casting, or wearing a stiff-soled shoe or walking boot for a short time.
Please don’t ignore the signs or symptoms of a broken toe. Instead, call the Family Foot & Ankle Center for an appointment at one of our convenient Greater Cincinnati locations. You can reach us at (888) 689-3317.