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It's probably happened to you. You get up in the dark of the night and BAM! You slam your toe into furniture that jumped right in front of you. My name is Dr. Andrew Schneider, and I'm a podiatrist in Houston, Texas. It's a very common story. There's a misconception that there's nothing you can do for a broken toe. In today's video, I'm going to share what can be done for a broken toe.
Can you think of another broken bone where the prevailing thought for the best treatment is to do nothing? Why is this the case for a broken toe? Your toes are important. They're responsible for propulsion when you're walking. They're responsible for balance when you're standing. That's why a broken toe is so painful. Your toes do a lot of work.
So, let's say you break your toe and do nothing to treat it. On one hand, the break can be in excellent position and it heals perfectly fine. On the other hand, you hit the toe, causing it to break and the ends are not in good alignment. If that's the case, it won't heal properly. This can cause the toe to have lasting changes. Letting a toe heal in a poor position can cause the toe to buckle, like a hammer toe. The bone can protrude out the side of the toe like a bone spur.
If the joint is affected, it will lead to the toe becoming stiff. All of these issues can cause lasting pain and problems. What if I told you that there is something you can do for a broken toe? The most basic evaluation for a broken toe is to take a simple x-ray in the office. This will show me the position of the fracture and allow me to predict how it will heal.
It's possible for the fractured toe to be in an excellent position. It should heal uneventfully. That said, the bone fragments can shift as you walk. To avoid this from happening, I recommend that you buddy splint the broken toe to an adjacent toe. This will stabilize the toe and protect it from being displaced.
What if the x-ray shows the bones of the toe are not in a good position? Toe fractures lend themselves to be manipulated, to get them back into position. I'll numb your toe, apply traction to it, and in most cases, this will reduce the fracture. I'll confirm it with another x-ray. Once the fractured bone is in good position, I'll buddy splint it and you'll treat the toe just like you would if it was always in good position.
If the toe fracture doesn't reduce by manipulating it, the fracture may need to be reduced surgically. This is very rare for a broken toe.