How to Tell if Your Toe is Fractured (And What to Do About It)

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How to Tell if Your Toe is Fractured (And What to Do About It)

Is My Toe Broken?

Stubbing your toe on a piece of furniture is exquisitely painful, but the pain quickly dissipates. But what do you do when you injure a toe and the pain doesn’t disappear? What are the signs of a fracture of the bones in the toe, and what should you do if you suspect there is a break? What can you expect in terms of recovery and healing time?

How to Tell

If you suspect that you have broken one or more bones in a toe, you will clearly remember the incident happening. Most toe fractures occur after kicking something, or dropping a heavy object on the toe. Broken toes are painful, and there will likely be bruising, swelling, and redness around the area. In some extreme cases, the bone may be visible or protrude through the skin. If you can see the bone, or feel any “chips,” you need to see a medical professional as soon as possible. 

Due to the pain associated with a fracture of the bone of the toe, walking may be painful, and wearing a shoe may be impossible. You may also see a collection of blood under the nail of the affected toe.

What to Do

You’ve seen a doctor or otherwise determined that you do have a broken toe. Now what? The usual treatment involves:

Taping the affected toe to the one beside it

Keeping the foot elevated

Icing the toe to reduce pain and swelling

Resting and protecting the entire foot

The entire healing process usually takes four to six weeks.


Most toe fractures heal without any issues. However, with any potential fracture, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and see a doctor, particularly if:

Pain increases over time

Pain can’t be controlled with over the counter painkillers

Swelling increases after the first 36 hours

You have an open wound which may be infected

Some more complex fractures do require reduction (moving the broken bone back into the correct position for healing). Other situations which may arise as a result of a toe fracture include infection or osteoarthritis, but these are relatively rare.

Without toes, we would be unable to walk upright. Therefore, if you experience an injury to your toe, follow these guidelines to make sure you treat the injury appropriately.  Request an appointment today to make sure your broken toe is healing correctly.

Twenty-six joints make up the foot and ankle, making this one of the most interesting structures in the entire body--and also, one of the most vulnerable. Injuries and pain in the foot and joint area can be debilitating, even immobilizing. Our experts are here to help you find your footing, and identify a course of treatment that will allow you to hit the ground running.