Digital (Toe) fractures are a common injury experienced by thousands of Americans annually. The injury is usually caused by a combination of forces which lead to a disruption in the bone cortex resulting in a visible break on x-ray. In the most severe cases, bone can actually be broken into multiple fragments called a comminuted (or compound) fracture.
Most digital fractures are caused through stubbing or crushing mechanisms. The most frequently fractured digits are the hallux (Great toe) and the 5th digit with the least frequently injured toe being the 3rd. Patients who have fractured their toe generally present to the office with a history of recent injury, pain, swelling, bruising, difficulty weight bearing, and discomfort in shoe gear. In some cases on obvious clinical deformity can be noted as a result of the movement of bone fragments.
Initial office workup includes performing a history and physical of the patient and assessing for malalignment of the toe. The integrity of the surrounding skin, toenail, and blood and nerve supply to the toe is also carefully assessed. X-rays generally are ordered to best evaluate the nature of the bones.
Treatment choices can vary based on the injury. Some simple fractures can be addressed with splinting or taping methods to secure the toe. Sometimes a reduction or repositioning of the toe is needed, and in the most severe injuries, surgical treatment of the injury may be required. Generally fractured toes heal within 6-8 weeks and patients return to normal ambulation without ongoing complication.
If you think you have suffered a toe injury, please make an appointment with Mid-South Foot and Ankle Specialist to find the best solution for your foot. Call us at 901-309-7700 to make an appointment today.