Closed Toe Fracture

Your toe is broken (fractured). This causes pain, swelling, and sometimes bruising. This injury usually takes about 4 to 6 weeks to heal, sometimes longer. Toe injuries are often treated by taping the injured toe to the next one (buddy taping). Or you may have a hard shoe, splint, or cast. These protect the injured toe and hold it in position.

If the toenail has been severely injured, it may fall off in 1 to 2 weeks. It takes up to 12 months for a new toenail to grow back.

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for yourself at home:

  • You may be given a cast shoe to wear to keep your toe from moving. If not, you can use a sandal or any shoe that doesn’t put pressure on the injured toe until the swelling and pain go away. If using a sandal, be careful not to hit your foot against anything. Another injury could make the fracture worse. If you were given crutches, don’t put full weight on the injured foot until you can do so without pain, or as directed by your healthcare provider.

  • Keep your foot elevated to reduce pain and swelling. When sleeping, put a pillow under the injured leg. When sitting, support the injured leg so it's above your waist. This is very important during the first 2 days (48 hours).

  • Put an ice pack on the injured area. Do this for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours the first day for pain relief. You can make an ice pack by wrapping a plastic bag of ice cubes in a thin towel. As the ice melts, be careful that any cloth or paper tape doesn’t get wet. Continue using the ice pack 3 to 4 times a day for the next 2 days. Then, use the ice pack as needed to ease pain and swelling.

  • If buddy tape was used and it becomes wet or dirty, change it. You may replace it with paper, plastic, or cloth tape. Cloth tape and paper tape must be kept dry.

  • You may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines. Also, talk with your provider if you’ve had a stomach ulcer, gastrointestinal bleeding, or take a blood thinner.

  • You may return to sports or physical education activities after 4 weeks when you can run without pain, or as directed by your healthcare provider.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider or as advised. This is to make sure the bone is healing the way it should.

X-rays may be taken. You will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Pain or swelling gets worse

  • The cast or splint cracks

  • The cast and padding get wet and stay wet more than 24 hours

  • Bad odor from the cast or splint or wound fluid stains the cast

  • Tightness or pressure under the cast or splint gets worse

  • Toe becomes cold, blue, numb, or tingly

  • You can’t move the toe

  • Signs of infection: fever, redness, warmth, swelling, or drainage from the wound or cast

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Shaking chills

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