How Do You Tell If Your Toe Is Broken – Injuring one of your toes is never a good situation. But since the toes are such small bones in the body, it can be difficult to determine whether a toe injury is serious or not so serious.
One of the most frequently asked questions among patients is how they can tell the difference between a broken toe or simply a sprained toe. As you will read, the answer is not exactly black and white.
How Do You Tell If Your Toe Is Broken
The best way to tell the difference between a broken toe and a sprained toe is to look at the symptoms of both. As you will see, both injuries have very common symptoms. Take a look:
Foot Symptoms That Indicate Bigger Health Problems
While these symptoms are very similar for each injury, let’s look at the defining characteristics. Comparing the two lists, we can see that bleeding is more common when the finger is broken. One of the clear signs of a finger fracture is extensive bleeding or the development of a subungual hematoma.
Ultimately, a broken toe will almost always cause more severe symptoms than a sprain. In both cases, a misdiagnosis can worsen the injury; so if you have any concerns about the type of injury you are dealing with, call your doctor.
At Alexander Orthopedic Associates, we are passionate about restoring your health. If you are in pain or think you have broken your toe, contact us.
Subscribe to our newsletter for joint health articles, procedure information and orthopedic care news. A sprained toe is a common injury that can occur for a variety of reasons and affects people of all ages. Sprained fingers are often tender and painful, but you can still move them.
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Fingers contain joints that allow a person to walk, run, jump and do other activities. Bands of tissue called ligaments surround each joint in the leg. Ligaments connect the bones in the fingers and allow the fingers to move.
As with other joints in the body, twisting, stretching or injuring these ligaments can lead to injury. Damage or tearing of a ligament is known as a sprain.
Broken toes and sprained toes often have similar causes and symptoms. However, a broken finger does not mean stretching or damaging the ligaments. Instead, the finger bone cracks or breaks.
It is advisable to see a doctor to check if the toe is sprained or broken. The doctor may perform a physical exam, ask questions about what caused the injury, and possibly order medical tests such as X-rays.
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A sprain can affect any joint in your toes. Each of the four smaller toes has three joints, while the big toe has two.
The extent of pain, swelling and other symptoms will depend on the severity of the sprain. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons classifies sprains into three grades. These include:
A sprained finger is usually the result of injuries and accidents that bend the finger too much or stretch it beyond its natural range. These accidents can include:
Turf toe is an injury to the first joint of the big toe, which is called the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. The MTP joint connects the big toe to the rest of the foot.
Sprained Toe: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment
A bunion usually occurs when a person bends their toes too far, such as when pushing off to run or climb. Combined with push pressure, this hyperextension of the MTP joint can cause a sprain.
This type of sprain gets its name because it usually occurs in sports such as soccer where the player is on artificial turf. Artificial grass is usually harder than natural grass. According to some estimates, up to 45% of professional soccer players have toes.
But anyone can get a toe, including people who don’t practice on artificial grass. People who try very hard to start running on the track can develop turf toe. Similarly, individuals who practice martial arts barefoot on sticky mats may also develop turf toe.
Some accidents usually only result in broken fingers, not sprained fingers. For example, dropping a heavy object on the big toe may break the bone in the foot, but is unlikely to affect the ligaments.
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However, a toe can be broken or sprained if a person trips and falls, suffers a sports injury, or overextends the toe.
Hitting your toe against a hard object, such as a wall or furniture, can also cause injury, depending on whether the force of the impact hits a bone or strains a ligament in the foot.
In these cases, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a sprain and a tear without a medical exam, such as an X-ray.
If there is severe pain, swelling, and bruising, a doctor should examine the toe to rule out a fracture and provide treatment if necessary.
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In most cases, a sprained toe will improve with proper home care. Mild sprains that have not torn a ligament usually respond well to standard home treatment, such as the RICE technique. This treatment includes:
Many people also find relief with pain relievers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help relieve pain and reduce swelling and inflammation. People with medical conditions should consult a doctor before taking any medication.
A severe sprain may need additional help to heal. A doctor may recommend hiking boots, which are sturdy shoes that protect the toe while it heals. A hiking boot allows a person to walk on an injured leg with extra stability.
Some people may also need crutches for a sprained toe. Crutches can help a person keep their weight completely off the foot, allowing the ligaments to heal.
What To Do About Bunions
It is not always possible to prevent all accidents and sprains. However, taking simple foot care and extra precautions can reduce the likelihood of a sprained big toe. A person can help prevent big toe sprains and other foot injuries by:
A doctor should evaluate any severe pain, swelling, or changes in the appearance of the big toe. People should not think that there is nothing they can do to improve the symptoms of an injured finger. Ignoring symptoms can make the problem worse and delay healing.
A sprained finger can take several weeks to fully heal. During this time, it is important to avoid overloading the joint and follow the instructions of the health care professional.
Most people have a good outcome from a sprained big toe and can return to their regular activities after healing.
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This article was clinically reviewed by Allan Evangelista, MD. Doctor. Evangelista is a foot and ankle surgeon at Mountaineer Orthopedic Specialists in Morgantown, West Virginia. He graduated from Temple University School of Medicine in 2002 and completed his internship at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates in 2006.
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A broken toe is a common injury that can be caused by something falling on the foot, being kicked, or just a serious injury to the big toe. You can injure your toe without actually breaking it, so it’s sometimes difficult to determine the severity of the injury. Fortunately, there are several ways to tell if your thumb is broken or not.
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This article was clinically reviewed by Allan Evangelista, MD. Doctor. Evangelista is a foot and ankle surgeon at Mountaineer Orthopedic Specialists in Morgantown, West Virginia. He graduated from Temple University School of Medicine in 2002 and completed his internship at Sarasota Orthopedic Associates in 2006. This article has been viewed 2,326,089 times.
The content of this article is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment. You should always consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional before starting, changing or stopping any type of medical treatment.
If the toe hurts when you press on it and the pain is persistent, the toe may be broken. Compare a potentially broken finger with healthy fingers to see if it is swollen, deformed, and/or unevenly colored, such as red, yellow, blue, or black. If pain, swelling, and discoloration persist for more than a few days, see your doctor to x-ray the tear and treat it. For advice from our doctor on caring for a broken finger, scroll down! A broken big toe, also known as a broken toe, is a very common injury, especially among athletes and people with an active lifestyle. Of the five fingers (also known as the digits of the feet), the little finger is the little finger
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