Broken Toes: Myths and Facts

Of the 26 bones in the foot, 19 are toe bones (also known as phalanges) and metatarsal bones (the long bones in the midfoot). A fracture, or break in the bones of the toes are actually quite common but at Great Neck Family Foot Care, we find that what patients know about the symptoms and treatment of toe fractures is often incorrect. Here are some common myths about toe fractures and the facts about how to best diagnose and care for this type of injury:

Myth: If You Can Walk On It, It’s Not Broken

Fact: There are two kinds of fractures: stress and traumatic. With stress fractures you may only experience intermittent pain that comes and goes with activity. There may be swelling but no bruising. Even with a traumatic fracture where the injury is the result of a direct blow, the pain may go away after a few hours but the break is most certainly there and may be evident by a deformity in the appearance of the toe as well.

Myth: There’s No Point Going to the Doctor Because There’s No Treatment for a Broken Toe

Fact: This is absolutely untrue and, in fact, dangerous. Toe fractures require prompt medical attention. Our board certified foot and ankle surgeons, Dr. Alec Hochstein and Dr. Diana Gagliano, will be able to determine the best treatment for your broken toe once they have completed a thorough exam which will most likely include digital x-rays to more fully assess the damage. Treatment may include the following:

  • Splinting—a splint will help keep the toe in a fixed position necessary for proper healing
  • Buddy taping—taping the fractured toe to another can be helpful in some cases but harmful in others; only a professional foot doctor can make this decision
  • Stiffed sole shoes—may be recommended to protect the toe and help keep it in the proper position
  • Surgery—if the break has severely displaced the toe or the joint is damaged, surgery may be necessary
  • Rest—almost always part of the recovery

Myth: A Broken Toe Will Get Better On Its Own

Fact: In fact, not getting your fractured toe properly treated can lead to serious consequences that range from chronic pain to deformity that limits mobility and makes shoe fitting difficult, arthritis, and future surgeries due to complications resulting from the deformity caused by a fracture.

If you believe that you may have broken your toe, call our Great Neck office as soon as possible and schedule an appointment to have the fracture properly evaluated and treated. You’ll be glad you put your feet in our hands.