A toe fracture is a break in a toe bone.
The Phalanges of the Foot
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This injury is caused by trauma from:
- Dropping something on the toe
- Stubbing the toe
- Severe twists
- Severe bending of a bone
Things that may raise the risk of a toe fracture are:
- Playing contact sports
- Health problems that may cause falls, such as nerve or muscle problems
- Not wearing shoes
Symptoms may be:
- Swelling and bruising
- Noises when moving the toe, such as grinding and cracking
- Problems moving the toe
- Problems walking
The doctor will ask about symptoms, past health, and how the injury happened. They may be able to make the diagnosis based on this information.
Images may be taken if the foot if the break is severe or is not healing as it should. This can be done with x-ray.
It can take 4 to 8 weeks for the toe to fully heal. The goals of treatment are to manage pain and support the bone as it heals. Options may be:
- Medicine to ease pain and swelling
- Tape, a boot, or a shoe with a stiff bottom to support bones as they heal
- Crutches to take weight off of the toe
Some fractures cause pieces of bone to come apart. These pieces will need to be put back into place. This may be done:
- Without surgery—anesthesia will be used to ease pain while the doctor moves the pieces back into place
- With surgery—pins or screws may be used to reconnect the pieces and hold them in place
Most fractures are due to accidents. They cannot be prevented.
Abu-Laban RB, Ho K. Ankle and foot. In: Rosen's Emergency Medicine. 7th ed. Maryland Heights, MO: Mosby; 2009.
Toe and forefoot fractures. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00165. Updated June 2016. Accessed September 30, 2020.
Toe phalanx fracture - emergency. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/toe-phalanx-fracture-emergency-management. Accessed September 30, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 9/9/2020