Fractured toe all about

Many people believe that since there is nothing a doctor can do about a broken toe (in the majority of cases, fractured toes are not put in casts or operated on), a toe injury is not worth a trip to a doctor. After all, if you can still walk on it, then the toe must not be broken.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Fractured toes that are left untreated can lead to serious foot problems in the future, such as deformities or arthritis.

Fractured metatarsal bones can be divided into two categories: traumatic fractures and stress fractures. With traumatic fractures, the need for a doctor’s visit will be obvious. Often you will hear the bone break.

The traumatic fracture can be displaced, meaning that the toe bone is dislocated and will require a doctor to “pop” the bone back into its proper position.

Displaced traumatic fractures of the toes sometimes require surgery. Swelling and bruising often accompany both displaced and nondisplaced traumatic toe fractures.

Stress fractures are less easy to identify. It can be difficult to know whether your toe is simply bruised or broken.

These small, hairline breaks are common among athletes and can result from repeated stress on the foot. They can be identified by pain in the area of the fracture.

Often the pain comes and goes depending on the activity of the injured person (i.e., a stress fracture may flare up on a run only for the pain to disappear a few hours later once the foot has rested).

Stress fractures are usually accompanied by swelling but NOT bruising, which is a sign of a traumatic fracture.

Toe fractures should not be confused with toe sprains, and both conditions should be treated seriously. The easiest way to distinguish fractures from sprains is to identify the location of the pain.

If the pain can be pinpointed to a particular spot (a “pinpoint” pain), then the injury is most likely a fracture. Sprains usually result in more general pain that affects the entire injured area.

Even if you can still walk on your injured foot, localized pain in your toes should not be ignored. A podiatrist can provide a diagnosis and course of treatment appropriate for your injury.
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