During the physical exam, health care providers typically check for tender areas in the toe. The provider also will check the skin around the injury to make sure it's not cut and that the toe is still getting blood flow and nerve signals.

X-rays of the foot can confirm a broken toe.



You can usually manage pain from a broken toe with medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) that you can get without a prescription. Severe pain might require prescription painkillers.


If the broken pieces of the bone don't fit snugly together, a care provider might need to move the pieces back into place. This is known as reduction. It's usually done without cutting the skin. Ice or a shot of anesthetic numbs the toe.

Keeping the toe from moving

To heal, a broken bone must not move so that its ends can knit back together. Examples include:

  • Buddy taping. For a simple fracture in any of the smaller toes, taping the injured toe to one next to it might be all that's needed. The uninjured toe acts like a splint. Putting gauze or felt between the toes before taping can prevent skin soreness.
  • Wearing a stiff-bottomed shoe. A care provider might prescribe a post-surgical shoe that has a stiff bottom and a soft top that closes with strips of fabric. This can prevent the toe from moving and provide more room for swelling.
  • Casting. If the pieces of the broken toe won't stay snugly together, a walking cast might help.


In some cases, a surgeon may need to use pins, plates or screws to keep the bones in place during healing.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Raising the foot and using ice can help reduce swelling and pain. Prop your foot up when possible so that your injury is higher than your heart. If you use ice, wrap it in a towel so that it doesn't touch your skin. Use it for about 15 minutes at a time, taking a break of at least 20 minutes before icing again.

Preparing for your appointment

Your health care provider might refer you to a specialist in orthopedic surgery.

What you can do

You may want to write a list that includes:

  • Details about your symptoms
  • How the injury occurred
  • Information about other medical problems you've had
  • All the medications and dietary supplements you take, including doses
  • Questions you want to ask the doctor

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor may ask some of the following questions:

  • Were you barefoot at the time of the injury?
  • Exactly where does it hurt?
  • Is more than one toe involved?
  • Does your injury feel better or worse when you move your foot certain ways?