Do You Really Need to See a Doctor for a Broken Toe

Have you ever heard someone say they broke their toe and did nothing about it?

We’ve heard this quite a lot actually.

People claim there’s really nothing you can do about a broken toe. Why waste time and money going to the doctor for it?

We get why some people feel this way.

There are some foot conditions in which the best thing to do is apply ice, stay off of it, and wait for it to heal.

However, this isn’t always the best course of action when it comes to a broken toe.

Getting a Proper Diagnosis – Why You Need to See a Doctor for a Broken Toe

The main reason you want to see your doctor if you suspect a broken bone is to get an accurate diagnosis. But do you really?

Here are some other reasons to see your doctor.

You Need to See a Doctor Because…If You Don’t Get Treatment It Could Get Worse

Without proper diagnosis and treatment, you could end up experiencing complications.

Some common complications include osteoarthritis and infection.

If there is a cut near the break, it can get infected rather easily. This isn’t just a simple or easily treatable infection we’re talking about either – it could end up becoming a bone infection.

Osteoarthritis can happen if the break is near a joint. When the toe doesn’t heal properly, it can cause extra wear-and-tear, and thereby strain, on the surrounding tissues, including the joint. Osteoarthritis can then develop.

You Need to See a Doctor Because…You Need the Right Treatment

There’s no question about it – a broken toe needs to be treated.

But what kind of treatment do you need?

This can only be determined by going to the doctor.

You may think you can just wrap your foot in tape or with an over-the-counter foot wrap from the drug store and you’ll be fine.

Actually, this is rarely the case.

To properly heal, you need to know whether you have a:

  • Displaced or non-displaced fracture
  • An angular or non-angular fracture
  • Intra-Articular vs. Extra-Articular (was cartilage involved or not?)

Only by finding out the answers to these questions will you be able to get the appropriate treatment.

Broken Toe Treatment Options We Recommend to Patients

How are broken toes fixed?

The first thing we need to do is get an x-ray. When we see what kind of break we’re dealing with, then we can create a treatment plan which will help you heal quickly and successfully.

Treatment options include:

  • A Walking Boot – This is a good option for patients who have a simple fracture. In other words, their bones may be broken, but they’re still in proper alignment. If this is the case, we recommend a walking boot to stabilize not only the toe, but the whole foot and ankle to ensure proper healing.
  • Numb It and Straighten It – Angular fractures require a bit more work. In these situations, we need to numb the patient’s foot and then put the bones back into proper alignment. Once this is done, we put the patient in a walking boot for about a month.
  • Surgery – Complex fractures are those where multiple bones are broken or a single bone is broken in multiple places. It may or may not include angular fractures. These cannot be fixed with a boot. Surgery is needed to correct the situation.

When people think they have a broken toe, they often tape their toes together and wait for the toe to heal.

While taping your toes is a good idea for stability until you get to the doctor, it isn’t a permanent solution. You may notice your pain is reduced because of the tape but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the doctor.

This is just a temporary solution to reduce your symptoms until you receive proper treatment.

Don’t Put Your Health in Jeopardy – Get the Proper Diagnosis Right Away

Sometimes we tend to forget just how connected our bodies really are. A toe is a toe and it has no bearing on the rest of our body.

As small as a toe is, though, it plays an important role in the function and health of our body. An injured toe can throw the whole balance of our body out of whack. The result – strain on the muscles, tendons, and joints.

When this happens, it can cause pain or injury in other parts of the body.

This is why it’s so important to get your foot evaluated.

It will take a little time and effort on your part, but in the end, it will totally be worth it. With an evaluation, your doctor can rule out any other more serious conditions and create a treatment plan which will help you heal thoroughly.

Dr. Fui Dawson
Podiatrist in Marietta, GA, Dr. Fui Dawson, is a Harvard trained Foot & Ankle Specialist treating patients in Marietta, GA and in the surrounding communities. Our clinic, Advanced Foot and Ankle Institute of Georgia, offers treatment for all foot and ankle conditions.
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