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I Hit My Toe Is It Broken?

Brandt R Gibson, DPM
Podiatrist, Neuropathy Doctor, Father of 11 and Founder of Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute
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I got a phone call this morning and was told about someone hitting their toe this morning while doing yoga.  Yoga is, of course, designed to help with balance, but if you're a newbie, you will occasionally lose your balance.  When this occurs, banging your toe against the ground or nearby furniture can be painful.  What happens when you hit your toe on something?

As you bang your toe on the ground, you may...

  • Damage The Nail - The toenail is the most common area damaged and can include either lifting the nail (with significant bleeding) or jamming the nail (also with significant bleeding).  Either case, this can be problematic for the nail and is usually very painful.  The good news is it usually resolves in a matter of days.
  • Sprain The Toe - Jamming a toe joint can also cause quite a bit of pain (short-term) and will produce pain while walking for at least 24-48 hours.  No bones are injured, just ligaments.
  • Broken Toe - Fracture to the toe is possible, and can often produce significant pain also.  If you have access to a simple tuning fork, you can test the toe for fracture without an x-ray but hitting the tuning fork and pressing the base against the bone of the toe you suspect to be broken.  If sharp pain occurs, definietly get checked out by your podiatrist.  If it doesn't, you may be okay.  Go in and see your podiatrist however, if the pain and swelling doesn't go down within 48 hours.  If you are in a lot of pain, go in and have your toe evaluated for fracture.

As you self treat this area, while awaiting evaluation, some simple techinques can be utilized:

  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
  • NSAIDs (Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, etc.)
  • Taping - Taping the toe to the toe closest to it to minimize motion.
  • Treating Nail (if necessary)
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