Recently, we’ve been hearing lots of talk about big toe injuries because of Yankees’ star Aaron Judge. In case you haven’t heard, the MLB superstar made an unbelievable catch at a recent away game against the Dodger’s. But, in the process, he hurt his big toe. Big time. 

At first, doctors thought our American League MVP broke his toe. Judge himself was less certain, commenting at the time, “It's tough to say. I've never broken a toe. We'll see what the tests say. I don't want to throw anything out there.” Luckily for Judge, tests revealed that he’s merely dealing with a big toe sprain. Still, the Yankees moved him to their 10-day injured list, even signing outfielder Billy McKinney to fill the void on their active roster. 

Now, when you’re Aaron Judge, people take even the possibility of a big toe fracture very seriously. In fact, he’s already had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his toe to keep down swelling from the sprain. And he’s resting up so that he can heal properly and get back in the game. But, unfortunately, most people don’t follow Judge’s play book when it comes to their own injured toes. 

Why You Have to Treat a Broken Toe, and Why Most People Don’t bare foot with curling toes

We all know that feeling—you’ve bumped your toe into your bed, or dropped something heavy on it, and that toe feels like it’s on fire. Any one of these injuries could leave you with a broken toe. Yet, most people decide to walk or hop off the pain, thinking there’s nothing much to do for this injury. In reality, that’s far from the truth. While you can almost always walk on a broken toe, doing so will be painful, and can cause an existing injury to worsen. Conversely, if you come into our podiatry practice in Massapequa immediately after a toe injury, we can accurately diagnose your injury, and offer appropriate treatment to ensure proper healing. 

Broken Toe Symptoms: What to Watch For

As we just mentioned, you may be able to walk with a broken toe. (Though it will probably hurt.) So, how can you decide if your toe is fractured? And when should you come in for a diagnostic exam and x-ray? 

With a broken toe, you may notice bruising…or you may not. But you will almost certainly notice pain and swelling. And if those symptoms stick around for more than a day or two, there’s a good chance you’ve got a broken bone, and not just a nasty bump. If that’s the case, it’s important to seek immediate diagnostic testing and treatment. Otherwise, that broken toe will keep hurting, interfering with your daily activities or even impacting your ability to walk. With these changes to your gait, other parts of your body may take on added stress, leaving you with pain in your heel or foot. Even your knees and back could pay the price for delaying broken toe care. 

Want to know what’s worse? If the fracture in your toe is displaced, meaning the pieces of bone moved out of alignment during the injury, they won’t heal properly without intervention. So, if you ignore a fractured toe bone, you run the risk of improper healing, along with permanent deformity.  

Of course, you don’t need an x-ray every time you stub your toe. But if you hear a snapping or popping noise during the injury process, that’s another clue that your toe could be broken. And, again, that clue should bring you into the office quickly, or else you run the risk of making that injury worse. 

Additional Fractured Toe Symptoms 

While we’ve already mentioned several symptoms to look for after a toe injury, the following could also indicate that you’ve fractured your digit:  

•    Bruising on your nail or skin 
•    Changes in the shape of your toe 
•    Range of motion limits on your toe
•    Pain that gets worse when you move or touch the affected digit
•    Sensations of numbness or tingling on the injured toe 

Diagnosing and Treating Toe Fractures in Massapequa, NY  Examining an injured big toe under a magnifying class

If you come into the office for a suspected toe fracture, here’s what you can expect from your visit. Initially, we’ll conduct a physical exam. Then, if we agree there’s a chance you’ve sustained a fracture, we’ll most likely order a foot and toe X-ray, to confirm the true nature of your injury. (That’s critical since, as we saw with our favorite Yankee, sprains and breaks can look a lot alike.) 

Once we’ve got your x-ray images, we can also determine the nature of your fracture. If the ends of your broken bone have shifted out of alignment, leaving you with a displaced fracture, you may need surgery to realign your toe bone and ensure proper healing.  
But if your fracture is aligned, and it’s also stable, you won’t have to worry about surgery. Instead, we’ll immobilize your toe and help you take some weight off the injury, to speed your recovery.  There are a number of ways we can immobilize the toe, and the one we choose will depend on the severity of your injury. Options include: 

•    “Buddy-taping” your broken toe to the uninjured one ‘next door’
•    Bracing, splinting or casting the affected foot
•    Changing out your shoes for pairs with hard soles
•    Putting you in a walking boot 

Remember, a broken toe doesn’t always present like the serious injury that it truly is. For that reason, the best way to prevent further damage and avoid invasive treatments is to see our podiatrists as soon as you feel the pain of a toe injury. 
Is your toe already hurt, and your pain is lingering? Have you noticed a change in the color of your toenail? Don’t wait another day to see if your pain improves. Instead, schedule an immediate appointment with our podiatrists in Nassau County, Long Island. We can x-ray that toe in the office and provide a treatment plan for quick pain relief and proper bone healing. 

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