Foot fractures are one of the most common lower extremity fractures seen in orthopaedics. While most fractures occur in the long bones of the leg, the metatarsals (the bones of the foot) are a common site for fracture as well.
Foot fractures can be caused by trauma, such as a fall or stubbing the toe, or by repetitive stress on the bone, such as from running.
When the fracture is aligned, it can be treated conservatively. Toe fractures heal slowly, and the toe can be swollen for an extended period of time.
After the fracture heals, complications such as arthritis, pain and stiffness, and deformity may occur.
A toe stress fracture can occur as a result of repeated, prolonged movements that stress the bone.
A broken toe takes about 6 weeks to heal.
What is the process of self-care for a broken toe?
The majority of broken toes heal on their own with home care.
- Learn about the “RICE” treatment protocol
The general principles of fracture treatment, are rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
This is applicable to any type of bone fracture or stress fracture and is the best way to treat a fracture at home for the first 72 hours after injury or until you can seek medical attention.
- Rest. Stop what you’re doing right away and avoid any activities that cause pain in your foot. Stop exercising, running, or whatever you were doing when you felt the pain; get off your feet and rest. It is critical to immobilize the area and avoid it as much as possible so that the fracture does not shift and worsen.
- Ice. Apply ice to the injured area as soon as possible. If your foot is fractured, it will swell quickly, if it hasn’t already. Applying heat will cause more blood to rush to the area, exacerbating the swelling. It’s been iced down. Ice the area for 20 minutes every two hours with crushed ice in a damp tea towel.
- Compression. Squeezing the injured area with a bandage can help reduce swelling. Make sure it’s not too tight that it cuts off circulation; if you experience numbness, tingling, or discoloration, it’s too tight. If possible, leave the toes unbandaged so that the circulation can be easily checked.
- Elevation. Sit or lie down, but keep the injured foot elevated at all times. The goal is to elevate the injured foot above the level of your heart to reduce swelling.
Pain relievers that are available over-the-counter
Because your fracture is likely to cause significant pain, treat it safely while promoting bone healing.
Avoid naproxen sodium and ibuprofen, which some doctors believe may slow the healing process in cases of bone injuries.
Consult an Orthopaedic Doctor
If the issue still persists, schedule an appointment with your orthopaedic doctor to check for any further problems.
Your orthopaedic doctor will most likely order X-rays of your foot to confirm your self-diagnosis.
Depending on the severity of the fracture, you may require a cast in addition to a walking boot or crutches.
If necessary, your orthopaedic surgeon may refer you to a physical or occupational therapist or an athletic trainer, especially if the fracture is severe or you require assistance in resuming safe exercise.
Foot fractures can be a serious injury, but they don’t have to lead to surgery. With the right treatment, you can get back on your feet in no time.