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Broken Toe (cont.)

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Broken Toe?

Unless you have a compound fracture or obvious deformity, you may not know for certain your toe is broken until a doctor orders an X-ray. Signs and symptoms your toe may be broken include:

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Blood under the toenail or broken toenail
  • Stiffness
  • Bruising or discoloration of the skin around the toe
  • The toe may appear abnormal, and may even look bent or deformed if the broken bone is out of place
  • Difficulty and pain when walking, especially if the big toe is fractured
  • Shoes may be painful to wear or feel tight
  • Injury to the nail bed (subungual hematoma)
  • Bleeding, if there is an open wound from the injury
  • Tingling in the injured area

Broken toe symptoms are similar to sprained toe symptoms. Sprained toes may be more mobile, and not deformed, and may not hurt as much as a broken toe.

Some other complications may develop as a result of the fracture. Complications can occur immediately after the injury (minutes to days), or can occur much later (weeks to years).

Immediate complications of a broken toe

  • Nail injury: A collection of blood may develop underneath the toenail called a subungual hematoma. If it is large, it may need to be drained. To drain a subungual hematoma a doctor will make a small hole in the toenail to drain the blood out. If the hematoma is very large or painful, the entire toenail may need to be removed.
Picture of a Subungual Hematoma of the Toe
Picture of a Subungual Hematoma of the Toe
  • Open fracture: Rarely, the broken bone in a toe fracture may protrude through the skin. This is called an open or compound fracture. Careful cleansing of the wound and possibly antibiotic medication will be needed to prevent the bone from becoming infected. Sometimes surgery may be necessary.

Delayed complications of a broken toe

  • After the toe fracture heals, the person may still be left with arthritis, pain, stiffness, or even a deformity.
  • Sometimes, the fractured bone will not heal completely (called a nonunion), or will heal improperly (called a malunion). Rarely, surgery may be necessary to fix this problem.
Picture of the Anatomy of the Foot
Picture of the Anatomy of the Foot

What Are the Symptoms and Treatment Options for a Broken Little (Pinky) Toe?

Symptoms of a broken little toe (pinky toe) are the same as with the rest of the other toes. However, while a broken pinky toe may be painful, usually it does not limit a person's ability to walk.

What is the treatment for a broken little (pinky) toe?

Treatment for a broken little toe (pinky toe) usually involves buddy taping. This means the injured toe is taped to the toe next to it for support. The non-injured toe acts like a splint.

  • Place a small piece of cotton or gauze in between the little toe and the toe next to it to prevent sores or blisters, and then loosely tape the toes together.
  • The tape can be removed for bathing and put back on afterwards.
  • Toes may need to be buddy taped for up to 4 weeks to heal.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/30/2017

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Fracture, Foot »

Approximately 10% of all fractures occur in the 26 bones of the foot.

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