Toe injuries are common, but you may not know how to treat them. One widespread myth suggests that it’s useless to go to a doctor. In reality, most broken toes need to be examined in order to reduce your risk of long-term complications.
Even though toes are small, they play a big role in your health and wellbeing. You need them to walk and maintain your balance. A toe that doesn’t heal correctly could lead to lasting discomfort, arthritis, infection, and decreased mobility.
Take care of your feet. Study these tips for how to prevent broken and bruised toes and treat injuries promptly.
There are many reasons why toes break. You may fall down, stub them, or drop something on them. In the case of stress fractures, injuries develop over time when you repeat a certain movement. Depending on your lifestyle, these changes may help.
- Cover up. Wear closed and supportive shoes, especially when you’re around heavy objects like the free weights at your gym. Follow any safety guidelines in your workplace and other areas.
- Replace footwear. Check the soles and heels of your shoes regularly. Throw them out if you see significant wear.
- Stretch and strengthen. Give your toes a workout. There are many simple exercises you can do while you talk on the phone or watch TV. Pick up marbles with your bare feet or try to raise and lower each toe separately.
- Train for balance. Becoming steadier on your feet will protect your toes and the rest of your body. Stand on one foot while making coffee. Practice yoga or take a tai chi class.
- Modify exercises. On the other hand, you may need to avoid some movements that strain your toes. Walk to the top of your yoga mat if you tend to jam your toes when you hop. Be careful during sports like football and basketball where sprained big toes are common.
Go to an emergency room if your toe appears crooked because the bone may be displaced. Immediate care is also needed if your toes feel cold or tingly, lose sensation, or the skin turns blue.
- Call your doctor. Most other toe injuries can be reported to your doctor if you’re concerned that you may need more than home care. The treatment for heavy bruising and simple fractures is very similar, and surgery is rarely required.
- Tape it up. During buddy taping, the injured toe gets bound to the toe next to it for support. That will reduce pain and make it easier to walk.
- Take medication. Acetaminophen will also fight pain and inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe other pain medication and antibiotics too.
Less serious bruising will usually heal on its own. You can speed up the process with these steps.
- Apply ice. Cover the toes with an ice pack. Apply ice for up to 20 minutes at a time during the first 1 to 2 days for a new injury. Wait about an hour before reapplying.
- Elevate the area. Reduce swelling by limiting blood flow to your toes. Prop up your feet when you’re sitting or lying down.
- Rest a while. Take it easy while your feet are recovering. A simple fracture usually heals within 6 weeks, and minor injuries recover even sooner.
Keep your toes in top shape. Wear proper footwear and exercise them like the rest of your body. See your doctor for any serious injury and give your feet time to rest before resuming your usual activities.