It may not be life-threatening, but injuring a toe can be a big pain! If you stubbed or bumped your toe and think it may be broken, it’s hard to know when to seek help and when to wait it out at home.
As part of our comprehensive line of podiatric services, the board-certified podiatrists at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers help patients in Arlington and Mansfield, Texas, recover from foot, toe, and ankle injuries.
We also want our patients to understand the signs and symptoms of a broken toe — including when it’s time to seek professional help. Keep reading to learn what you need to know!
Understanding broken toes
A broken, or fractured, is a common foot injury that rarely requires emergency care. That doesn’t mean a broken toe is a walk in the park!
Toes can break like any other bone in your body, as the result of impact, such as when a heavy item lands on your toe or stubbing or bumping it hard. Because of their small size and placement on the periphery of your body, it’s easy to injure these little bones — especially the little toe.
Most of the time, broken toes heal on their own without much need for medical intervention. Pain medication, including anti-inflammatory medicines, and immobilization of the toe are the usual treatments, though severe breaks may require additional therapies.
Even though most broken toes aren’t emergencies, If you suspect a fractured toe, it’s important to see your podiatrist at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers. Some breaks can cause nerve damage and other complications down the line if not properly treated.
Signs your toe is broken
You may not know right away whether your toe is broken. Sprained, strained, stubbed, and bruised toes can be quite painful. If you heard a snap or breaking sound at the time of injury, however, that’s a good sign your toe is broken.
Other signs of a broken toe include:
- Throbbing pain
- Bruised or discolored skin
- Difficulty bearing weight
- Toe appears crooked or mangled
- Inability to move your toe
- Swelling in the toe
Your provider at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers completes a full assessment, typically with an X-ray, to verify the break and evaluate the severity.
When to be concerned
Most of the time, broken toes don’t lead to long-term complications or additional health problems. An untreated broken toe or one that resists healing, however, can cause trouble for you and your health.
One key issue is infection. If the skin of your toe was cut or punctured at the time of the break, you have an increased risk of developing an infection. People with certain underlying medical conditions, like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other immune system conditions, are also at higher risk of infection.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, schedule an appointment right away as they may indicate a bone infection:
- Toe is red and warm
- Aches and fatigue
- Pain that doesn’t get better
Bone infection isn’t the only cause for concern when it comes to broken toes. For example, any time you injure your big toe, it’s important to schedule an evaluation with your provider at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers to ensure your toe heals properly.
Other reasons to be concerned about a broken toe include:
- Having a medical condition that slows healing (e.g., peripheral artery disease; congestive heart failure; diabetes)
- The pain gets worse instead of better over time
- The bruising and or swelling don’t improve
- You have an open wound at the time of the break
- You broke multiple toes
- The skin on the toe changes color to blue or gray
Broken toes that don’t heal properly increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis or permanent nerve damage down the line. The right treatment with a foot and toe expert helps ensure your broken toe heals the right way so you can resume your normal activities without worrying about complications.
If you think you have a broken toe, contact the experts at the Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers office nearest you for an evaluation. Correct diagnosis and treatment can save you trouble with your toes in the future!