Foot and ankle injuries may account for one quarter of all sports-related injuries and are a leading reason for emergency room and urgent care visits. Many of these injuries are relatively minor and easily addressed with conservative treatment, but there are some commonly missed diagnoses that can result in long term pain or require changes in activities and lifestyle.
Common Toe Injuries
Injuries to the toes are typically a contusion type (stubbing on the doorframe), sprain type (catching on turf or carpet), crushing, or piercing/laceration.
The first two types (contusion and sprain) are the most common. Typically, they can be treated with buddy-taping, use of a rigid sandal, and rest. The exception is when there is deformity, loss of tendon function, or displaced intra-articular fracture (a break that enters the joint), especially at the big toe. A foot and ankle surgery consult is appropriate if there is any concern for these more complex injuries.
Generally, a crush injury will take longer to heal and is more likely to be associated with nail trauma, nerve injury, and potential for gangrene or infection. If significant swelling and discoloration occurs, follow-up with a podiatrist is recommended.
A wound caused by a sharp item may involve only skin in which case typical laceration repair and infection prevention may be sufficient. Tendon function should be tested. If there is concern for deeper injury or your primary care provider is unable to do a simple wound closure, specialty care is recommended.
When to Seek Care
In summary, it is not necessarily true that “you cannot do anything for a broken toe.” So, consider seeking medical advice when toe injuries occur.
The Polyclinic's podiatrists see both adults and children for acute or chronic conditions of the foot and ankle. Call 206-860-4457 to schedule an appointment.