January 16, 2019

How do you know if your toe is fractured or broken?

Foot and Ankle


A broken toe is a common occurrence that can be extremely painful.

The feet contain nearly one-fourth of all the bones in your body, which provide you with support and movement. There are 26 bones in one foot: 14 toe bones, five long metatarsal bones and seven tarsal bones. The metatarsals are the bones that connect your toes to your foot. The forefoot includes the 5 metatarsal bones and the 14 toe bones.

If your pain is located in the middle of your foot your toe may not be broken and you may have a broken foot (metatarsal).

Types of toe fractures

  • Stress fracture: Develops after repetitive activity such as running
  • Non-displaced: The bone is cracked or separated but the ends of the bones are together or line up
  • Closed fractures: The skin is not broken but the bones are broken and out of line
  • Open fracture: The skin is broken and the bone is extremely out of line


  • A direct blow to the foot such as dropping a heavy object
  • Overuse and repetitive stress
  • Participating in high-impact sports like cross country or football

Symptoms of a broken toe

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising of the foot
  • Pain with walking
  • Pain with bearing weight

Physician examination

To determine whether you have a broken toe, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history, have you describe your symptoms and how the injury occurred, and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray may be necessary to rule out other problems.


Broken toe treatment

Make an appointment to see an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist if you think you have a broken toe. A fracture that is not treated can lead to increased foot pain and arthritis, ultimately affecting your ability to walk.

Initial treatment for a broken toe

  • Rest by putting no weight on the injured foot
  • Ice to reduce swelling
  • Compression by lightly wrapping your foot
  • Elevate your foot as much as possible

Nonsurgical broken toe treatment options

Most broken toes are treated without surgery and include:

  • Taping your broken toe to an adjacent toe
  • Over the counter medication such as Advil or Tylenol
  • A walking cast to limit toe movement
  • Reduction: A physician will inject an anesthetic to numb your toe and manipulate the broken pieces back into their proper position

Surgery for a broken toe

In extreme cases, a surgeon may use surgery to position the toe bones into proper healing positions. This is extremely rare and uses pins, plates or screws to maintain bones during healing.


Most broken toes will heal in four to eight weeks. You can begin weight bearing as soon as you can tolerate it; however, if you experience any pain you should stop your activity right away.
The Ultimate Guide to Foot and Ankle Injuries

Schedule an appointment

Your well-being is important to us. Click the button below or call us to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists. If your injury or condition is recent, you can walk right into one of our OrthoIndy Urgent Care locations for immediate care. For rehabilitation and physical therapy, no referral is needed to see one of our physical therapists.

Schedule an Appointment Call OrthoIndy 317.802.2000
Megan Golden

By Megan Golden

Megan Golden worked at OrthoIndy from 2012 to 2019, where she wrote a variety of content for our blog, magazines and inbound campaigns. Megan graduated from Ball State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and advertising and communications studies minor.

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