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Toe Fractures

Toe Fractures: Symptoms, Treatment, & Recovery

Toe fractures are a relatively common type of fracture that usually do not require surgical intervention to properly heal. Stubbing the toe or dropping something heavy on the toe is the most frequent cause of this common injury. In severe breaks or breaks of the big toe, surgery or casting may be required to ensure proper healing.

What Causes Toe Fractures?

Kicking a heavy object, stubbing the toe on something hard, dropping something heavy on the toe, and getting kicked or stepped on in a contact sport can all cause a toe fracture. In cases of repetitive activity such as running or sports, you may suffer a stress fracture.

Toe Fractures Risk Factors

Risk factors for toe fractures include not wearing shoes or proper footwear, such as steel-toed boots in working situations; not wearing shoes at all; playing contact sports such as football, soccer, lacrosse, etc.; advanced age; and osteoporosis.

Symptoms of Toe Fractures

If you have fractured your toe, you may experience swelling, pain, pain to the touch, stiffness of the toe, tingling, numbness, deformity of the toe, trouble walking, and decreased movement or range of motion in the toe.

How are Toe Fractures Diagnosed?

Since most toe fractures can heal nonsurgically, your doctor may only perform a physical examination of your toe in addition to listening to your symptoms. If your doctor needs a clearer view of the break, or suspects it may be severe, they may recommend X-rays.

Treatment for Toe Fractures

Toe fractures are most often treated nonsurgically. In rare cases, surgery may be required. 


Buddy taping, where your doctor tapes the broken toe to its neighbor, may be performed to keep it stable as it heals. A walking cast or a stiff shoe may also be provided. If the bone is out of alignment, you will be given local anesthesia in-office and your doctor will reduce (move) the bones back into the proper place.


If the toe fracture is severe and cannot be reduced into place by your doctor in-office, surgery may be needed. Your doctor may use open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) surgery, which uses pins or screws to hold the bones in place. 

Toe Fractures Recovery Time

Recovery from a toe fracture depends on the severity of the fracture and if surgery is required. In general, a broken toe should be fully healed after 12 weeks. 

How Can I Prevent Toe Fractures?

Prevention of toe fractures may not always be possible but taking the following steps may help:

  • Wear the correct footwear for the activity you are participating in
  • Wear the correct sports equipment for the sport you are playing
  • Be sure to strength train and eat a healthy diet to keep your bones strong
  • Make sure your work and home environments are well-lit and clear for walking to prevent falls or stubs

Expert Care at Raleigh Orthopaedic

For over 100 years, we have served patients in Wake County and provided the highest level of orthopedic care. If you wish to set up an appointment, give us a call, or use our link below to book online. Book an appointment now.

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