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Stubbed or Broken: A Quick Guide on Toe Injuries

As we all know, it’s extremely easy to suffer a toe injury. A “stubbed toe,” to use a not-so-scientific term, is one of the most familiar and unavoidable injuries people can experience. All it takes is missing one step going down the stairs, kicking a soccer ball the wrong way, or dropping a box directly on an unprotected pinky toe. Hurting a toe is easy; figuring out the seriousness of the injury can be a bit trickier.

Because stubbed toes are so routine in our lives, we can sometimes assume we’ve merely endured another bump or a bruise when it might actually be a broken bone. Dr. Joe Davis, an experienced podiatrist at Southeastern Med, says while a broken ankle won’t necessarily be perceptible from a sprain or bruise, the toes usually offer a bit more in the way of visual clues. Specifically, if your toe seems to be pointing a slightly different direction than it usually does, your worst assumptions are probably correct.

In cases where a broken toe isn’t visually obvious, there is a greater risk of a person wrongly attributing their lingering foot pain to some other cause, especially if they already have a pre-existing condition, such as peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes. This is why it’s important to take a cautious approach. If you have a broken bone and don’t realize it, continuing to walk and put weight on it can exacerbate the injury, possibly leading to an infection or other more serious conditions.

In terms of treatment, the usual solution for a broken toe is to create a splint by taping the injured toe to a neighboring toe. This isn’t usually an option if you’ve broken your big toe, however, as it can’t be splinted with another toe. In more severe cases, especially a badly broken big toe, wearing a cast or undergoing surgery might be the best solution. For most common toe fractures, though, the injury can heal in four to six weeks.

Dr. Davis and the podiatry team at Southeastern Med are here to help, so if you have concern over a stubbed toe that might be something more, call Dr. Davis’ office to schedule an appointment at 740.439.3338.