announcement

Help someone with useful health advice.

What to Do for a Broken Toe

What to Do for a Broken Toe

Adequate rest, use of OTC painkillers and application of ice are some of the common home remedies to treat a broken toe.
Nicks J
Did You Know?
Until the injury heals, you need to wear special shoes that have a wide toe box. In other words, the toe box should be roomy that can comfortably accommodate your swollen toe.


Falling of a heavy object on the toe is the most common cause of this type of injury. The injured toe is swollen and even touching it may trigger unbearable pain. In some cases, the skin color of the affected toe turns blue or gray.
Diagnosis
In order to determine the extent of damage, an X-ray of the affected toe will be taken. The X-ray helps to evaluate the severity of fracture and then accordingly the treatment is decided. In case the results indicate that the toe bone has been dislodged from its normal position, surgery is recommended.
Treatment
Rest
The swelling and pain associated with an injured toe will aggravate if adequate rest is not taken. Refrain from doing activities that are hurting the injured toe. Physical activities that put undue strain on the broken toe need to be avoided. Too much walking or standing can extend the healing time considerably.
Ice Therapy
Application of ice on the affected part is one of the most sought after treatment to reduce the swelling that accompanies an injured toe. Icing the damaged toe 3-4 times daily for a period of 10 minutes is necessary to decrease the pain. Direct contact of ice cubes with the skin is not advisable as, it can lead to scarring. Instead, one should wrap the ice cubes in a cloth and then place it on the injured toe.
Medications
Intake of appropriate medicines can play a key role to alleviate the pain. The most commonly used medication for the treatment of broken toe is ibuprofen. This is one anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID) that can work wonders to get rid of the swelling associated with broken toe. Even acetaminophen is helpful in this regard but the required dosage has to be followed strictly for the medications to be effective. These medications are basically painkillers that do a great job of relieving the discomfort.
In case an open wound has developed, taking antibiotics may help to keep the infection at bay. The doctor may also administer tetanus vaccine to prevent the wound from contracting a serious bacterial infection.
Positioning the Foot
Keeping the foot in a position that helps to relieve the pain is equally important. In order to ease the discomfort, allowing the leg to rest in an elevated position, is a good option to ensure a speedy recovery. Bad or improper positioning can not only increase the healing time, but can also, at times, cause the toe to 'heal' badly.
Taping the Toe
An easy way to accelerate the healing process of a broken toe, is to prevent it from moving. This can be easily achieved using surgical tape. Just tape the injured toe with the toe adjacent to it, in order to immobilize the toe and reduce the recovery time. Do not forget to place a cloth between the toes. This will provide a greater support to the injured bone.
Surgery
In case the toe bones are dislocated to a great extent, then the aforementioned remedies fail to provide any relief. In fact, with the passage of time, the symptoms aggravate and the person finds it extremely difficult to concentrate on work. In such a case, surgery is the only option to restore normal position of the toe bones.
A toe reduction surgery is often used when to comes to correcting the complicated fracture associated with broken toe. In this procedure, the displaced part of the toe bone is realigned and attached using plates, pins and screws. This may require slight cutting of the bone to ensure its proper realignment. The procedure is done under local anesthesia and involves making an incision in the toe to place the bones into the proper position. The pins and screws inserted, are then removed only after the injured toe bone heals. However, in case it is not a complicated fracture, the displaced bone is then shifted back to its original position without making any incision. A splint is then put around the toe to hold the bones together.
The nail of the broken toe may also get damaged during the injury. So, apart from toe swelling, blood may accumulate below the toenail and cause pain. In case the hematoma does not go away on its own, medical intervention is necessary. Health care professionals usually pierce the nail plate by using a very fine needle to get rid of the underlying hematoma.
Healing Time of a Broken Toe
The higher the severity of injury, longer the healing time. Adequate rest and following all the self-care measures is crucial to shorten the healing time. Injuries that do not cause any fracture to the toe heal within 6-8 weeks. On the other hand, patients who underwent a surgery to correct the broken toe will have to wait for at least 2-3 months to resume their day-to-day routine without any discomfort.