bruised and broken big toe | Experienced Idaho PodiatristEveryone experiences the agony of stubbing their toe at some point. In most cases, the pain from catching your foot on a table leg or tripping over a tree root is short-lived. However, persistent or unbearable pain could signify that you’ve broken your toe.

Symptoms of a Broken Toe

Many of the symptoms of a fractured toe could also be applied to a sprained toe. Both involve the immediate onset of pain that continues for several days. Even a podiatrist may be unsure of the exact nature of the injury without performing an imaging test.

Common signs of a broken toe include:

  • Inability to bend the toe
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Inability to walk or put any weight on the affected foot
  • Swelling
  • Throbbing pain
  • Bruising on the skin and under the toenail
  • Inability to touch the toe without pain
  • A crooked appearance or marked difference from the same toe on the opposite foot

Fortunately, the immediate treatment for both conditions is to stay off the injured toe and elevate the affected foot. If you are still unable to run, walk, or stand the next day—or if the pain seems to be getting worse instead of better—you should see a podiatrist for the most effective care.

Diagnosing and Treating a Toe Fracture

You never want to wait too long before getting a medical opinion on foot pain. A toe injury may seem minor, but delayed treatment can put you at risk of additional injuries and make your recovery more complicated.

In our podiatry offices, we use various diagnostic tools to determine the underlying cause and severity of your condition. Once we have a complete picture of the problem, our staff will devise a treatment plan that may include:

  • Conservative treatment. If you have a simple, non-displaced fracture, you may only need to immobilize the toe while it heals naturally. This can include splinting or buddy-taping the affected digit, wearing a walking boot, or wearing a stiff-soled shoe to prevent the ball of your foot from flexing when you walk.
  • Rest. You should put as little weight as possible on your foot while it heals. You may need to elevate your foot when sitting and apply ice to the broken digit to decrease inflammation and encourage healing. If you try to get back on your feet too soon, you may risk re-injury that needs more invasive treatment.
  • Surgery. If the bones in the toe are displaced or have been broken into several pieces, you may need a surgical procedure to remove bone fragments and realign the damaged bones.

Long-Term Complications of a Broken Toe

You should never try to treat a suspected toe fracture at home, especially if your injury involves the big toe. All toes are necessary for proper mobility, but the big toe bears a great deal of weight and is responsible for jumping, quick movements, and other daily activities.

If not treated properly, a fractured toe could cause long-lasting problems such as:

  • Deformities. Bones that do not heal properly may form bumps or cause the toe to bend at a different angle.
  • Arthritis. A break near a joint puts you at risk of developing osteoarthritis that causes chronic pain years after the injury has healed.
  • Infections. You may need antibiotics to prevent deep-tissue infection if you suffer a displaced fracture or a bone breaks through the skin.
  • Balance problems. A poorly-mended toe affects your overall balance and stability, potentially causing you to miss out on the activities you love.

Let Us Advise You on the Best Course of Action

Don’t take your toes for granted! If you cannot bear weight on your foot, our Idaho podiatry team can diagnose the cause of the problem and start effective treatment immediately. Simply request an appointment online or speak with our team in Twin Falls or Burley by calling (208) 731-6321.