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Toe Fracture

Introduction

Toe fractures can certainly hurt, but they are rarely incapacitating.  They most frequently result from some type of trauma.  The majority of toe fractures can heal without surgery.

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Anatomy
Your toes are part of your forefoot.  Your big toe (hallux) contains two bones (phalanges).  The rest of your toes contain three bones.  Your toes help you balance and walk.

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Causes
Toe fractures are most frequently caused by trauma.  A direct impact, such as dropping an object on the toe, walking into a solid object, or significantly stubbing the toe can break a bone.  Ballet dancers and some athletes are at risk for toe fractures.

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Symptoms
Toe fractures can be very painful.  You may have a sudden intense pain when the bone breaks; followed by pain that may go away. You may be able to walk, but walking will probably increase the pain.  Your toe may look swollen, bruised, or mishapen.

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Diagnosis
Your doctor can diagnose a fractured toe by reviewing your medical history and injury circumstances, and examining you.  An X-ray or bone scan is used to see the fracture.

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Surgery
Surgery may be used to realign bones that have broken and moved out of place.  Surgery may be necessary if a fracture involves a joint. Surgical hardware, such as pins, may be used to hold the bones in place while they heal.

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Treatment
Most toe fractures heal without surgery.  There are many ways to help your toe “rest” so it can heal. You may wear a toe splint or your doctor may “buddy tape” two of your toes together to provide support and stability.  You may need to wear a rigid walking shoe to protect the toe.  Physical therapy following non-surgical or surgical treatment can help you gain motion, strength, and function.

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Recovery
Recovery is individualized and depends on the extent of your injury and the type of treatment you receive.  It can take several weeks for a toe fracture to heal.  Your doctor will let you know what to expect.

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Prevention
It is important to see a doctor if you suspect that you have a toe fracture.  Treatment is necessary to prevent complications such as deformity, chronic pain, loss of use, and bones that fail to heal.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.

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