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Broken Toe


Pain medications

  • Usually only acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) is needed for pain.

  • Talk to the doctor before taking any new medications.

  • For a severe fracture, the doctor may prescribe something stronger.

  • Pain may be helped by elevating the foot and using ice packs.

Other Therapy

  • Reduction

    • If the toe fracture is displaced (the 2 ends of the broken bone are out of place) or rotated (the toe is pointing in the wrong direction), the doctor may need to reduce it, or put it back into place.

    • Sometimes a shot of medication (called local anesthesia) may be needed to numb the toe before it is put back into place.

    • After a reduction, the broken bone will need support to hold it in place while it heals.

  • Buddy taping

    • If the toe fracture is a minor or small fracture in a bone of one of the small toes, a doctor may only need to tape the injured toe to the one next to it for support. This treatment is also called buddy taping.

    • If the toe is buddy taped, it is usually safe to bathe, and then replace the tape afterward, but check with the doctor to make sure it is OK.

    • Make sure to put a small piece of cotton or gauze between the toes that are taped together. This prevents the skin between the toes from developing sores or blisters.

  • Casting

    • A cast is usually not required for a simple toe fracture.

    • A hard-soled, sturdy, and supportive shoe should be worn.

    • A doctor may suggest a special shoe to wear if the foot or toes are very swollen.

    • A cast (or even surgery) may be needed if the big toe is broken, a fracture involves a joint, or a lot of small toe fractures occur at once.

    • A cast may also be needed if a bone in the foot or leg is broken in addition to the toe.

Next Steps Follow-up

Talk to the doctor to find out when to schedule an appointment to have the injured toe re-checked to make sure it is healing properly. If any problems or complications develop sooner, the appointment should be scheduled sooner.

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