Think You Broke Your Toe? Here’s What You Should Do

Here’s the scene: you’ve motivated yourself enough to get off the couch and shuffle toward the fridge in search of a midnight snack. Your bare feet slap the cold tile beneath you as you amble toward the treasure trove of treats in the dark. You’re almost there when suddenly – BAM! – you’ve stubbed your toes hard on a kitchen table leg. Searing pain jolts throughout your toes, blinding your other senses. In your nocturnal delirium, you’ve wondered, “Have I broken my toe? What should I do?!” If you suspect you have a broken toe, we have the answers.

What Causes a Broken Toe?

A broken toe is one of the most common podiatric injuries that we see at The Foot & Ankle Center. It usually occurs when something heavy is dropped on your foot, when toes are stubbed against a hard surface, or when you experience repeated trauma. You are also more susceptible to damage when you walk around barefoot!

How Can I Tell if a Toe is Broken?

It can be surprisingly difficult to determine if your toe is broken! Typically, the telltale signs of a broken toe include the following:

  • Intense and throbbing pain
  • Severe bruising
  • Crooked and misshapen appearance of the injured toe
  • Deformity
  • Difficulty walking
  • Swelling
  • Toenail discoloration

Any pain and swelling that you experience should subside within a few days. If not, you should schedule an appointment with your podiatrist for an evaluation.

What Should I Do if I Think I Broke My Toe?

You will probably feel tempted to tape up your toe, take some painkillers, and move along with your life. This, however, is one of the worst things you could do. Any time you suspect a broken toe, you should visit your podiatrist as soon as possible. It’s possible that your toe bone may have been pulled out of alignment or pushed into an incorrect angle. If you choose not to be evaluated, you risk running into worse problems later in life like arthritis, chronic pain, infection, difficulty wearing your favorite shoes, and limited range of motion.

You may have also heard various myths about broken toes. You know, myths like there’s nothing a doctor can do to help your toe, if you can move it then it’s not broken, and toe injuries should be soaked in hot water with Epsom salts right away. These are all harmful and untrue! The right answer is to see your friendly podiatrist, who is an expert on all things feet.

What Will My Podiatrist Do for My Broken Toe?

First off, your podiatrist will more than likely use an x-ray to evaluate your toe and determine the right treatment for you. The x-ray will allow your doctor to view your toes’ bones and alignment to see if a break truly occurred. Should you have a broken toe, your podiatrist may suggest using a walking boot, hard-sole shoes, splinting, or a cast, depending on the injury. Surgery is typically reserved for severe injuries and misalignments.

What Should I Do if My Toe is Just Bruised?

Bruised toes are still plenty painful, even if they’re not broken or fractured! If you only sustained some bruising, thank your lucky stars and give your affected toe some TLC. You can use ice within the first few days for 15-20 minute intervals to help decrease swelling. Dial back your physical activities and rest your foot for a few days. If the pain persists, however, check back in with your podiatrist! Don’t let toe pain keep you down. Reach out to the friendly, knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center to help you get back on your feet again! Call us today at (314) 487-9300 or request your appointment here.