Broken Toe: Causes, Symptoms, Complications and First Aid

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Broken toes occur when there is a break or crack in the bone. It is also Broken Toeknown as a fracture. Each toe consists of two or three small bones. They can be easily broken from hitting the toe on a hard surface or dropping a weighty object on it. Due to its fragility, broken toes are a common injury. It can be diagnosed with a medical examination, which sometimes involves x-rays.

Most fractures are minor and can be easily treated at home. On the other hand, severe injuries may cause deformities and open wounds, which would require medical care. Big toe fractures also require medical assistance. Surgery is rarely needed.

Causes of Broken Toes

Broken toes are commonly caused by injury to the toes. However, overuse or prolonged, repetitive movements may lead to stress or hairline fractures. Other than that, trauma is the primary culprit. The most common causes of broken toes include:

  • Jamming the toe on hard surface (usually with great force)
  • Dropping a weighty object on the toes
  • Certain sports activities

Symptoms of Broken Toes

It is quite evident when there is a broken toe. However, any one or multiple of the following signs and symptoms of broken toe may be present. Broken toes can be diagnosed by medical examination, x-ray and MRI.

  • Pain
    • Which is worsened by walking
    • Swelling
    • Stiffness
    • Difficulty walking
      • Especially if it involves the big toe

Complications from Broken Toes

Complications may arise immediately after the injury (within minutes to days) or much later than that (weeks to years), although they are uncommon in broken toes. Some of the most common infections include:

  • Nail injury, which can lead to subungual hematoma
  • Open fracture
  • Infection, especially if it is an open fracture
  • Nonunion (incomplete healing) or malunion (improper healing)
  • In the future, increases risks for osteoarthritis

First Aid Management for Broken Toes

There are several ways to manage broken toes to relieve of symptoms. Broken toes need not usually require medical attention. To effectively manage broken toes, administer first aid to hasten healing.

  • Stay away from any activity that may exacerbate the injury.
  • Take plenty of rest and immobilize the affected foot. Several methods can be done to immobilize the toe:
    • Buddy taping: tape the injured toe to its adjacent toe
    • Wear a surgical shoe
    • Casting the foot.
    • To reduce swelling, apply ice pack to the toe for 20 minutes an hour for the first 24 hours of the injury. In the succeeding days, ice it two to three times a day. Do not apply ice directly unto the skin and wrap it in a washcloth.
    • Elevate the foot a few inches to limit the swelling.
    • Take over-the-counter pain medications for pain, if necessary. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen may be taken but do not give aspirin to children.

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and not meant to substitute for medical advice or first aid training. To learn how to manage broken toes and other broken bones in the body, enroll in workplace approved First Aid Training for complete knowledge.

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