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Treating a Broken Toe

There are a number of foot problems that may go unnoticed but, in most cases, a broken toe is not one of them. Depending on its severity, both fractures and breaks can be excruciating and immobilizing. Out of over 200 bones in the human body, almost a fourth of them are in your feet. All it takes it the slightest misstep or a brief stint of clumsiness for you to be limping around for a month. Fortunately, very few instances of broken toes require invasive procedures. Modern medicine offers a variety of treatment options before resulting to surgery.

Assess the damage

Only the trained eye of a podiatrist will be able to properly determine the best course of action. Chalking up your injury to a minor jam and opting to just “walk it off” may prove to be a costly mistake in the long run. A quick x-ray will clear up any misconceptions and serve as the starting point on your road to recovery. Pain, redness, and swelling can be temporarily relieved but if a break is not properly corrected, that pain may be one you’ll be forced to live with for a very long time.

Temporary treatment

When treating a broken toe, the R.I.C.E. concept is a golden rule.

  • Rest- Rest and more rest. Athletes and other active types may despise every second they’re confined to a chair with their foot propped in the air, but it is the only way to ensure you won’t worsen the damage. Bones in the foot are, normally, the fastest to heal from a break. Infants usually recover in record time but the elderly, due to the frailty of their bones, may consequently suffer permanent damage.
  • Ice- It doesn’t matter if you construct an ice pack in a zip lock bag or use a store bought gel pack, ice reduces swelling and eases the pain. Better still, a bag of frozen produce fresh from the freezer. Ice-cold peas serve the same anti-inflammatory purpose and are better suited for molding around the affected area.
  • Compress- The use of an elastic bandage, wrapped tightly to prevent movement but loose enough to allow proper circulation, is a wonder at alleviating discomfort. Properly applied compresses counter the pressure of swelling ligaments and joints.
  • Elevation. Keeping the foot raised above the heart encourages optimum circulation. Compounded with the aforementioned components, the risk of edema is greatly reduced.

When the Doctor steps in

Unusually contorted toes, open wounds, loss of feeling, and excessive swelling are all instances that call for immediate medical intervention. If you experience bleeding, increased redness, or sores, you should get treated as soon as possible. Treatment options vary by patient and the specifics of their medical history.

Buddy tapping is the most commonly used practice. Taping the injured toe to a neighboring toe prevents excessive movement during the healing process. A short leg cast or brace may also be prescribed to protect the foot while you move around. In addition, crutches are a common accessory to the wounded person’s treatment process.

Taking it a step further

More extreme cases will call for extensive measures. Depending on the severity of the break, your doctor may need to perform a closed reduction; repositioning of the bone to assist in proper healing. If the closed reduction is ineffective, or if there is evidence of damage to the ligaments, an open reduction will be the final result. Surgery is rarely required, but when it is, it is usually highly successful.

Dr. Ian S. Goldbaum is a Podiatric Physician and Surgeon serving patients in Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach.

Do you have questions or concerns?
Call or email today for immediate
answers to your questions.


16244 S. Military Trail #290
Delray Beach, FL 33445


8198 Jog Road #100
Boynton Beach, FL 33472


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