When a Broken Toe Requires Care

The pandemic has changed life in many ways for almost everyone. Some people are eating too much, and others are drinking too much. Some are spending more quality time with their children, and others are filing for divorce from their partners. 

You may be surprised to learn of another pandemic-related change: More people than usual are breaking their toes.

According to a recent Washington Post article, podiatrists and orthopedic surgeons are reporting seeing many more broken toes at their practices since the pandemic. The theory is that people are spending more time at home without shoes, leaving their toes vulnerable to furniture and dropped objects. 

While a broken toe doesn't sound like a major injury, it’s still a broken bone. It’s painful and can interfere with your walking and other activities. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bryan King of Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute explains self-care for your toe, and when you need to call a doctor.   

Broken toe symptoms

Broken toes are a common injury, one that most often happens when people drop something on a toe. You can also break your toe by stubbing it or bumping it into something hard. 

A sign that it's broken and not simply bruised is that the pain is consistent. With a bruised toe, the pain subsides after a day or two. Other symptoms include:

With minor breaks, the toe may heal on its own within a month or two. In other cases, you'll need medical attention.

How to care for a broken toe

If the pain persists, you have trouble walking, or can't wear shoes, you should see a doctor. While you may think you can simply tolerate the pain until a broken toe heals, the fracture is like that of any other broken bone — it needs to be properly aligned so it can heal without complications. 

Infection may set in, and your chance of developing osteoarthritis may increase. Treatment options include:

Depending on the severity of the break, you may need surgery to place screws, plates, or pins to keep the bones aligned while they heal and fuse together.

Did you stub your toe? Is the pain persistent? Call Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for an appointment with Dr. King.

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