What is broken toe?

Broken toe in children: Overview

Your child has broken (fractured) their toe. Depending on which toe and the type of fracture, they may not need a special cast or brace. Buddy-taping the broken toe to a healthy toe next to it is sometimes all you need to do. The toe may take 4 weeks or more to heal.

What are the symptoms of a broken toe?

Symptoms of a broken toe may include pain when you move your toe. You may have noticed a snap or pop at the time of injury. There may be swelling and bruising. The toe may also be in a different position than normal.

How is a broken toe treated?

Some broken toes can be cared for at home. Try using ice, elevating the foot, and resting.

Treatment depends on which toe is broken, where in the toe the break is, and how bad the break is. Medical treatment is needed more often for a broken big toe than for the other toes. If you don't have diabetes or peripheral arterial disease, your toe can be buddy-taped to the healthy toe next to it. Put some soft padding, such as felt or foam, between your toes before you tape them together. This helps protect the skin. Your injured toe may need to be buddy-taped for 2 to 4 weeks to heal. If your injured toe hurts more after buddy taping it, take the tape off.

Other treatment may be needed. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Wearing a splint or cast to keep the toe stable and help it heal.
  • Surgery. This may be an option for a bad break.

A fracture that isn't treated may cause long-term pain, limited movement, and deformity.

How is a broken toe diagnosed?

A broken toe is diagnosed through a physical examination. Your health professional will look for swelling, purple or black and blue spots, and tenderness. An X-ray may be needed to determine whether the toe is broken or dislocated.

How can you care for yourself when you have a broken toe?

Rest and protect your toe. Apply ice and prop up your foot so that it's above the level of your heart. Don't walk until you can do so without too much pain. Use crutches if your doctor suggests it. Protect your broken toe by buddy-taping it to the healthy toe next to it.

What is a broken toe?

A broken toe is a break, or fracture, in a bone of your toe. A fracture can range from a hairline crack in the bone to the bone being broken into two or more pieces that no longer line up correctly.

What causes a toe to break?

You may break (fracture) one of your toes by stubbing it, dropping something on it, or bending it. A hairline crack (stress fracture) may occur after a sudden increase in activity, such as increased running or walking.

Buddy-taping

Broken toe buddy-taped to uninjured toe next to it, with padding in between the toes.

Home care after breaking a toe includes applying ice, elevating the foot, and rest. Medical treatment for a broken toe depends on which toe is broken, where in the toe the break is, and how severe the break is. If you do not have diabetes or peripheral arterial disease, your injured toe can be buddy-taped to the uninjured toe next to it. Protect the skin by putting some soft padding, such as felt or foam, between your toes before you tape them together. Your injured toe may need to be buddy-taped for 2 to 4 weeks to heal. If your injured toe hurts more after buddy taping it, remove the tape.

Broken toe in children: When to call

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has severe pain.
  • Your child's toe is cool or pale or changes color.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the toe.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Pain and swelling get worse.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.