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Broken Toes

Toe And Metatarsal Fractures

A fracture is a break in the bone. Fractures can be divided into two categories: traumatic fractures and stress fractures.

Traumatic Fractures

Traumatic fractures (also called acute fractures) are caused by a direct blow or impact, such as seriously stubbing your toe.

Traumatic fractures can be displaced or non-displaced. If the fracture is displaced, the bone is broken in such a way that it has changed in position (dislocated).

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures are tiny, hairline breaks that are usually caused by repetitive stress.

Stress fractures often afflict athletes who, for example, too rapidly increase their running mileage. They can also be caused by an abnormal foot structure, deformities, or osteoporosis. Improper footwear may also lead to stress fractures.

Stress fractures should not be ignored. They require proper medical attention to heal correctly.

Treatment

Signs and symptoms of a traumatic fracture include:

  • You may hear a sound at the time of the break.
  • “Pinpoint pain” (pain at the place of impact) at the time the fracture occurs and perhaps for a few hours later.
  • Crooked or abnormal appearance of the toe.
  • Bruising and swelling the next day.

Consequences Of Improper Treatment

Some people say that “the doctor can’t do anything for a broken bone in the foot.”
In fact, if a fractured toe or metatarsal bone is not treated correctly, serious complications may develop.

Examples

  • A deformity in the bony architecture which may limit the ability to move the foot or cause difficulty in fitting shoes
  • Arthritis, which may be caused by a fracture in a joint (the juncture where two bones meet), or may be a result of angular deformities that develop when a displaced fracture is severe or hasn’t been properly corrected
  • Chronic pain and deformity
  • Non-union, or failure to heal, can lead to subsequent surgery or chronic pain.