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A broken toe can be very painful and make it difficult to apply weight to your foot and even put on your shoes, but it is a surprisingly common injury. It can be sustained from dropping something on your foot or through impact damage like stubbing your toe on an item of furniture.
In the immediate aftermath of hurting your toe it will be extremely painful and is likely to become very inflamed very quickly. In severe breaks the toe may even stick out at an angle which will be a clear indicator of the damage sustained.
It is important to note that the majority of broken toes can be managed at home and do not require medical assistance as the toe will heal naturally.
In the majority of cases your toe will heal naturally, but it can take up to six weeks before you are back to normal.
In the immediate aftermath of the injury you should elevate the foot above the heart to help reduce swelling as well as applying ice which can help manage any pain. Once the initial pain and swelling has subsided you should strap your broken toe to the toe next to it so that it acts as a splint. You should also try and refrain from applying weight to your foot but when you do, wear footwear which are sturdy and avoid placing too much pressure on the affected toe.
In the vast majority of cases you will not need to see a doctor or visit the hospital but there are occasions where medical attention should be sought.
You should see a doctor if the pain fails to subside as you may need more powerful painkillers which can help, likewise if the swelling fails to subside after a few days then anti-inflammatories may be required.
A visit to the hospital may only be required where there is suspected nerve damage and you experience a tingling sensation in your toes as the condition may need to be investigated further, likewise if you suspect you have severely damaged your toe.
There are a number of different types of breaks of the toe bone with some severe fractures requiring a visit to your local accident and emergency department. Where the bone has broken away at an angle a reduction may be required in order to move the bone back into its original place and can be achieved via a local anaesthetic, albeit not entirely pleasant.
In more serious cases a broken toe may require surgery to realign the bone under a general anaesthetic using pins and screws to fix the toe back in place. If you have broken your big toe then it may even require a cast and for you to use crutches to avoid applying weight on it.