Podiatrist in San Leandro, CA
Foot Doctor of the East Bay
1300 Bancroft Ave
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 483-3390
(510) 394-6402 fax
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Treating a Broken Toe

Maybe you were helping your child or sibling move into a new apartment and dropped something heavy on your toe. Maybe you were out on the field running down a fly ball or going out for a pass, weren’t watching where you were going, and slammed your foot into a hard object. Immediately you hear a popping sound and feel a sharp, stabbing pain. Yep, you’ve broken your toe.

Broken toes can be intensely painful and can make standing, walking, and putting on shoes very difficult. If the break is minor - say from a stress fracture - you might get away with just a little swelling and bruising. More traumatic injuries may physically deform the toe or push it out of alignment, severely damage the nail, or even lead to a bone infection if the skin is broken.

The R.I.C.E. Method: First-Response and At-Home Treatment

Catastrophic injuries should of course be dealt with by a professional immediately. If the injury isn’t as severe, however, your best immediate course of action is to follow the R.I.C.E. method: rest the affected area by getting off your feet, apply ice to reduce swelling, compress the area gently but firmly (not too tight) using a stretchy bandage, and elevate your foot above heart level. You want to avoid putting pressure on the joint as much as possible, so only walk when absolutely necessary. Sometimes we will recommend a pain reliever or anti-inflammatory medications to help minimize swelling and discomfort as well.

What We Can Do For You

If you suspect a break - or it’s obvious - pay Dr. Michael Stein and Zeindelin Ahmad, DPM a visit. We’ll X-ray your foot to confirm and locate a break, then get to work on putting together a treatment plan. Most commonly, we’ll use a splint, or “buddy tape” your broken digit to one of its neighbors, in order to keep it in alignment. You may also require a walking boot or cast to protect it during your recovery, particularly if the injury is more complex.

In the very worst cases, surgery may be required in order to rebuild the damaged bone. When buddy taping or splinting isn’t enough, pins, plates, or screws may need to be involved. However, most broken toes will not require this level of treatment.

Broken Toe Recovery—What to Do and What to Expect

This type of injury typically takes around a month to six weeks to heal fully, depending on the severity of the fracture. Once you’ve sufficiently recovered—enough that you’re out of any casts or splinting and you’re able to put weight on the foot and walk normally—it’s a good idea to pursue some toe stretches and other exercises in order to re-strengthen the joint and restore your range of motion. Weakness and stiffness are common after an injury like this, so it’ll take a little work to bring the injured toe back to the same physically capability as its partner on the opposite foot.

If the injury also caused significant nail damage - even causing you to lose it - keep an eye on how it grows back in. Most of the time there are no problems, but sometimes ingrown toenails, pooling blood, or fungal infections can take hold. We can help you should these complications emerge.

Finally, it’s a good idea to wear shoes with stiff soles for a little while, as they help keep your joint as stable as possible while you stand or walk.

If you think you’ve suffered broken toes, are dealing with stubborn pain that won’t go away, or  are experiencing difficulty or complications recovering from a foot injury, contact Foot Doctor of the East Bay today. Our experts serve residents of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and the entire Bay Area with the highest quality foot and ankle care. Give us a call at (510) 483-3390 to set up an appointment today.

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