Senior Care - How to Provide Elderly Independence

Can You Do Anything For A Broken Toe?

by Stephen Silva

If you've recently fractured one of the joints in a toe by stubbing it on a doorway or street curb, you may be wondering whether going to the doctor is worthwhile. After all, many say there's nothing you can do to heal a broken toe but wait, and the prospect of paying for an office visit or copay just to have your toes taped together may not seem like a good use of your time. However, there are some situations in which a "DIY" setting could have long-term consequences on your gait, joints, and overall health. Read on to learn more about the signs your toe may require further intervention, as well as a few things you can do to relieve pain in the meantime.

What Are Some Signs Your Toe May Require Medical Intervention?

In many cases, the "break" in a broken toe is just a stress fracture, often too small to even show up on an X-ray. These fractures usually heal fairly quickly, and don't require anything more than topical pain relief and immobilization (usually by taping to a neighboring "buddy toe"). However, if your toe swells significantly, preventing you from putting any weight on your foot (or even putting your shoes on), or if your toe appears angled to the side, it may need to be professionally set.

Often, physicians can cure a crooked toe simply by manipulating it during an office visit. By ensuring that the toe looks straight and isn't "caught" on a shard of bone or cartilage, your doctor can improve the odds that your toe will heal uneventfully without further intervention. On the other hand, continuing problems may mean the toe needs to be surgically rebroken and set so that it can heal properly and avoid later development of arthritis and other bone and joint issues. 

What Can You Do To Relieve the Pain of a Broken Toe? 

If you're pretty sure your broken toe doesn't require a doctor's attention but you'd like to relieve the pain and swelling you're experiencing, there are a few things you can do, including: 

  • Applying ice to the affected area to cut down on swelling;
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers; 
  • Keeping your foot elevated (like on a pillow) when you're sitting; 
  • Limiting the amount of weight you put on the affected toe for the first couple of weeks, while it's healing; 
  • Wearing a splint or other protective foot covering around the house to avoid re-breaking your toe by stubbing it or dropping objects on it. 

Contact a clinic, like Laurel Podiatry Associates, LLC, for more help.