A toe fracture is a break in a toe bone. The bones in the toes are called phalanges.
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A toe fracture is caused by trauma to the bone. Trauma can result from:
These risk factors increase your chance of developing a toe fracture. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors:
If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to a toe fracture. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms, level of physical activity, how the injury occurred, and will examine the injured area. Your doctor may take an x-ray of the foot, but this is not always needed.
Treatment will depend on how serious the injury. Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with the toe joint, such as misalignment and immobility. Treatment involves:
In many toe fractures, the bone is broken but the two pieces are in proper position. If the bones are out of position, the doctor will put the bones back into place. This is usually done without surgery. However, if your fracture is severe, you may need pins or screws to hold the bones in place. Each of these will require surgery. Sometimes, the joint of the toe is injured in the fracture, and severe joint injury may require surgery. Toe fractures in children may involve the growth plates. This may require that a specialist examine the fracture. Surgery is also possible. Once the bones are realigned, they need to be held in place while healing. The fractured toe may be taped to the toe next to it, or you may need a walking cast with a toe plate.
The following drugs may help reduce inflammation and pain:
If you have a fracture, check with your doctor before taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
To help reduce your chance of getting a toe fracture, take the following steps:
Last reviewed September 2012 by John C. Keel, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.