Broken Toes


How can I tell if I broke my toe?

If you can see ends of a toe bone poking out of the skin, there is no question that it is fractured. In less serious cases, it may be hard to tell a broken toe from a bad sprain. Both will be painful, both can swell up, and both may be red from inflammation or have blue or purple bruising. It can be just as hard to walk with a badly sprained toe as a fractured one.

One clue is how the healing progresses. Follow first aid measures by resting and elevating your foot, using ice therapy to reduce swelling, and using any medications we suggest for pain control. If it has been a couple of days and the symptoms are not improving, it’s time to call in the foot specialists.

There are some symptoms that require immediate medical attention. If the skin on your toe looks blue or grey, if there is any open wound involved, or if your toes are cold and numb, don’t wait. Call Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center in Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby, CO, right away at (303) 423-2520 for an assessment. You don’t want serious complications from infection or nerve injury.

Can broken toes be treated?

Broken toes not only can but also should be treated. The better they heal, the less the risk of developing arthritis or structural problems later.

If there is no displacement, we may simply put gauze between the affected toe and its neighbor and tape the two together. The unbroken one acts as a splint to hold the broken one in place as it heals. We can show you how to do this correctly, as the dressing will need to be changed to keep the toes dry and to make sure the tape is not too loose or so tight that it constricts blood flow.

For a more serious break or an open fracture (skin is broken), we will need to realign and protect it—either with a stiff, rocker bottom shoe or a splint or cast of some type. It might even need a small pin or screw to hold it straight during healing. Most broken toes will heal within about 4 to 6 weeks.

If you suspect you have a fractured toe, call Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center at (303) 423-2520 to schedule an appointment at one of our four west Denver offices: Wheat Ridge, Golden, Evergreen, or Granby.

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