A broken toe is a break (fracture) in a toe bone. The break can occur in any of the toe bones. You may have a break in several places or the break may be in the joint between toe bones.
A broken toe can occur several ways. Broken toes are commonly caused by a direct hit (such as kicking a hard object or something landing on the toe). A toe can also break from a twisting type of injury.
If you play a sport where you don't wear shoes (such as martial arts, ballet, gymnastics) you are at an increased risk for a toe injury.
You will have pain, swelling, and tenderness in the toe. It will be hard to walk or run.
Your toe may turn black and blue. You may get bleeding or discoloration underneath your toenail. Your toenail may eventually come off.
Your provider will review your symptoms, ask about how the injury occurred, and examine you. A toe fracture is diagnosed by an X-ray showing a break in the bone.
The treatment depends on the type of fracture you have. Usually the broken toe is taped to the toe directly next to it. In rare cases surgery must be done to fix the broken bone.
To treat this condition:
Your provider may advise you to wear stiff-soled shoes. You may also be given crutches until you can walk without pain.
If your toenail is loose and has not yet fallen off, keep a Band-Aid around it.
It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks for a broken toe to heal. If the fracture goes into a joint your toe may continue to feel stiff and can lose some range of motion. You may develop arthritis over time. Sometimes a toe may become shorter after a fracture.
Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate. Return to your activities depends on how soon your toe recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury has occurred. The goal is to return to your normal activities as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury.
You may safely return to your normal activity when you can walk straight ahead without pain or limping.
Most toe fractures are caused by accidents that cannot be prevented. However it is important to wear proper fitting footwear and avoid playing or running on surfaces that are uneven.