Pathologic fracture

Broken toe

Broken toe is a common form of injury usually caused by striking the toe on hard surfaces or dropping a heavy object on the foot. In most cases, it takes 4-6 weeks to heal, but severe injuries might take longer.

Do I have a broken toe?

A broken toe is usually swollen, painful and red. There is also bruising of the skin around the area and oftentimes a buildup of blood beneath the toenail occurs. The individual finds it hard to walk and wearing shoes can be painful.

In case the damage is severe, the toe might stick out at an angle. Most cases can be managed at home and medical care is not usually needed.

When to consult a doctor

Broken toe
A broken toe is usually swollen, painful and red. There is also bruising of the skin around the area and oftentimes a buildup of blood beneath the toenail occurs.

You have to check the toe daily and call a doctor if:

  • The pain worsens or could not be relieved by commonly used pain medications. In such cases, the doctor might prescribe a stronger pain medication.
  • Discoloration and swelling does not improve after a few days.
  • There is a wound close to the broken toe that requires cleansing to prevent infection.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on a broken toe is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage broken bones and fractures including a broken toe by taking a standard first aid course with Victoria First Aid.

Home care for a broken toe

  • For the small toes, place a piece of gauze or cotton wool between the injured toe and the one next to it and tape the toes together using a plaster. The healthy toe functions as a splint.
  • Shoes with a stiff sole or a surgical cast shoe can be used to aid with mobility.
  • Keep the foot elevated as long as possible by resting on pillows to reduce the pain and swelling.
  • Apply an ice pack on the toe for 15-20 minutes every 1-2 hours for the first couple of days. Remember not to apply directly on the skin.
  • Rest the affected toe by avoiding walking or standing for long periods of time and placing any weight on the toe. Avoid engaging in activities that have caused the fracture until fully healed. The individual can start normal activity once the swelling settles and able to wear a protective shoe comfortably.
  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen can be given to reduce the pain. Children below 16 years old age should not be given aspirin.
  • Sturdy shoes should be worn that do not bend or squash the toe.

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