As a podiatrist in Houston, TX, I see many different injuries to the feet. Nothing is more common, however, than when someone comes in with a broken toe. This is how it usually happens: the patient wakes up in the middle of the night and needs to use the restroom. Rather than turn on a light, they feel their way through the room in the dark. Then BAM! they see stars when their foot finds the leg of a chair, the bedpost, or a dresser.

The next morning they awaken to a toe that is swollen, bruised, and very painful. It's often impossible to put a shoe on too! Did you break the toe? Is it a sprain? Just a bad contusion? Does it matter?

For some reason it has become standard to say that there's nothing to do for a broken toe. That couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, there are times that a "simple" stubbed or broken toe can even lead to loss of the digit. This is especially true when someone is diabetic or suffers from peripheral artery disease (PAD). The injury can cause the small vessels to the toe to spasm and cut off circulation. This sometimes can be prevented with immediate attention from your Houston podiatrist.

I less severe cases, it is always worthwhile to x-ray the foot that was injured. This will allow your podiatrist to see whether the bone in the toe is broken, and if so, if the fractured bone is in good position. If it is not, it may need traction or surgery to return it to a good position to heal.

For a fracture other than that of the great toe, casting the foot is rare. The toe is usually splinted and a surgical shoe is worn to ensure support and minimal pressure on the fractured toe.

Now that you are armed with more information, you'll see these injuries as much more than "just" a stubbed toe. Best yet, prevent them by turning on a light the next time nature calls in the middle of the night.
Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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