Overview

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

Usually, you can treat a broken toe by taping it to a neighboring toe. But if the fracture is severe — particularly if it involves your big toe — you may need a cast or even surgery to ensure proper healing.

Most broken toes heal well, usually within four to six weeks. Sometimes, a broken toe may become infected or increase the risk of osteoarthritis in that toe in the future.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a broken toe include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Discoloration

When to see a doctor

Consult a doctor if the pain, swelling and discoloration continue for more than a few days or if the injury interferes with walking or wearing shoes.

Causes

A broken toe typically happens when you drop something heavy on your foot or you stub your toe against something hard.

Complications

Complications may include:

  • Infection. If the skin is cut near your injured toe, you are at higher risk of developing an infection in the bone.
  • Osteoarthritis. This wear-and-tear type of arthritis is more likely to occur when the fracture extends into one of the toe joints.
Dec. 14, 2017
References
  1. Eiff MP, et al. Toe fractures. In: Fracture Management for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2018. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 22, 2017.
  2. Buttaravoli P, et al. Toe fracture (broken toe). In: Minor Emergencies. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 22, 2017.
  3. Gravlee JR, et al. Toe fractures in adults. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Aug. 22, 2017.
  4. Azar FM, et al. Fractures and dislocations of the foot. In: Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 22, 2017.