A broken toe is a common injury that's most often caused by dropping something on a foot or stubbing a toe.

Usually, treating a broken toe involves taping it to the next toe. But if the fracture is severe — especially if it's in the big toe — proper healing might require a cast or even surgery to heal well.

Most broken toes heal well, usually within 4 to 6 weeks. Sometimes, however, a broken toe can get infected. Also, the break might increase the risk of getting osteoarthritis in that toe in the future.


Signs and symptoms of a broken toe include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Change in skin color from bruising or bleeding under the skin

When to see a doctor

Consult a health care provider if the pain, swelling and change in skin color last for more than a few days or if the injury affects walking or wearing shoes.


Dropping something heavy on a foot and stubbing the toe against something hard are the most common causes of a broken toe.


Complications may include:

  • Infection. If the skin is cut near the injured toe, the risk of getting an infection in the bone increases.
  • Osteoarthritis. This wear-and-tear type of arthritis is more likely to occur when the break affects one of the toe joints.

Nov. 02, 2022
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  2. Gravlee JR, et al. Toe fractures in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 22, 2022.
  3. Toe and foot fractures. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. phttps://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/toe-and-forefoot-fractures/. Accessed Sept. 22, 2022.
  4. Miller M, et al., eds. Foot and ankle injuries in the adolescent athlete. In: DeLee, Drez, and Miller's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine: Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Elsevier; 2020. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Sept. 22, 2022.


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