A toe fracture is a break in a toe bone. The bones in the toes are called phalanges.
The Phalanges of the Foot
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A toe fracture is caused by trauma to the bone. Trauma can result from:
Factors that may increase your chance of a toe fracture include:
A toe fracture may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms, level of physical activity, and how the injury occurred. The injured area will be examined. Your doctor may take an x-ray of the foot, but this is not always needed.
Proper treatment can prevent long-term complications or problems with your toe, such as immobility or misalignment. Treatment will depend on how serious the fracture is, but may include:
Extra support may be needed to protect, support, and keep your toe in line while it heals. Supportive steps may include buddy taping (your injured toe is taped to healthy toes next to it), a walking cast, or a shoe with a stiff bottom.
Some fractures cause pieces of bone to separate. Your doctor will need to put these pieces back into their proper place. This may be done:
Children’s bones are still growing at an area of the bone called the growth plate. If the fracture affected the growth plate, your child may need to see a specialist. Injuries to the growth plate will need to be monitored to make sure the bone can continue to grow as expected.
Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be given to help reduce inflammation and pain.
Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
The toe will need time to heal. Activities will need to be adjusted, but complete rest is rarely required. Ice and elevating the leg at rest will help with discomfort and swelling.
To help reduce your chance of a toe fracture:
To help reduce falling hazards at work and home, take these steps:
American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Hatch RL, Hacking S. Evaluation and management of toe fractures [review]. Am Fam Physician. 2003;68(12):2413-2418.
Ribbans WJ, Natarajan R, Alavala S. Pediatric foot fractures. Clin Orthop. 2005;(432):107-115.
Toe and forefoot fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00165. Updated September 2012. Accessed August 5, 2015.
Toe phalanx fracture - emergency. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T903310/Toe-phalanx-fracture-emergency-management. Accessed September 14, 2016.
Last reviewed August 2015 by Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
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