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What To Do If You Have A Broken Toe

If you're like many people, then you've probably banged your toe or dropped something on your foot from time to time. Usually, the pain disappears in a few hours or within a day and you are fine. However, there may come a time when you stub your toe or drop something and actually break a bone. It can sometimes be hard to tell if you have a minor sprain or a broken toe. Here are some of the signs that you did more than just sprain your toe and what to do if your injuries are potentially more serious.

Difference Between a Sprained and Broken Toe

Generally, sprains result in slight bruising or swelling that usually resolves fairly quickly. The pain is less severe than a broken toe and more generalized. Broken toes are often noticeably swollen and discolored and may appear crooked. It's also possible that you can have both a broken toe as well as a sprained toe or metatarsal (the bones in the foot connected to the toes) and have symptoms of both.

Treatment for a Broken Toe

If you think your toe is broken, then you should have your foot examined by a doctor. He or she will take an x-ray to determine the exact location of the break and its severity. Most of the time, if it's only a fracture or affects your smaller toes, your doctor may recommend that you take over-the-counter painkillers and rest your foot. If the break is in your big toe, or if it is severe enough to separate the bone or break the skin, then you may need more treatment and possibly a cast.

Recuperating from a Broken Toe

Most broken toes only require that you take it easy with your foot and keep it elevated. You may find it hard to wear normal-width shoes at first, so choose footwear that doesn't squeeze your toes tightly. It's also possible that you will need crutches, especially if your big toe is the broken one because that toe supports a lot of your weight. Whether or not your toe should be splinted is up to your doctor. In most cases, it can help relieve the pain, but it can also increase pain under certain circumstances.

Your broken toe should heal fine without special treatment. However, if you are still experiencing pain after six to eight weeks, or your toe did not heal correctly, then you will have to follow up with your physician. Any injury that results in a bone breaking the skin or excessive bleeding is serious but can be treated at an urgent care center.