20 Apr

Do you have broken big toe (fractured hallux)?

Broken 1st & 2nd ToeA broken big toe (fractured hallux) mostly occur as a result of severe impact and often have associated bruising. Sometimes, you don’t have much bruising at all. If after intensive activities, you think your toe may be broken from running or repetitive stress, then it is most likely just a sore bruised toe or a stress fracture, and not a broken toe. The only way to be sure is to have an X-ray, because without an obviously toe deformation it is impossible to know for sure. The danger of misdiagnose is that if the fracture is serious and not properly healed, than you may end up with permanent arthritis in big toe.

Home guide to test for a broken vs bruised big toe (hallux):
1. Feel for a deformity – if it is uneven it is a broken toe.
2. Wiggling your toe – if no severe pain or rubbing/popping sound, may not be a break.
3. If your toe is extremely swollen (about 2x the normal size) – it may be broken.
4. Compare that toe to your other foot, if it looks shorter or bent – it may be broken.
5. Check your temperature – after a break you may have the surrounding area inflammed.

Some suggestions and information about a bruised or fractured big toe (hallux):
– Pain: Instant if fracture or gradual if a stress fracture from running.
– Swelling and stiffness occur very quickly, the toe will not look normal.
– Blood under the nail called a subungual hematoma which needs be drained if swollen, or the nail could fall off and be abnormal for the rest of your life.
– An open fracture with a tear in the skin is extremely prone to infection and will need to be treated with antibiotics at the emergency room by a doctor.
– If the fracture is not properly reduced – you will have permanent arthritis, it is better to play it safe and get it X-rayed if it looks really bad!
– Often with fractures of the smaller toes, the people are not aware that they have a fracture.

When to call a podiatrist for a broken big toe (fractured hallux)?
– It is better to be safe than sorry and get an X-ray right off the bat, if in doubt. Probably, you will not need any surgery or the re-attachment of ligaments, but better to be sure. Most people will get arthritis and pain for the rest of their life if big toe is even slightly displaced.
– See doctor without delay if the pain is getting worse, especially after anti-inflammatory treatment and icing  to control inflammation.

When to go to the ER for a broken big toe (fractured hallux)?
– Toes turn white, blue or grey colored — arterial injury
– Numbness or tingling — nerve injury
– Play it safe and go get an X-ray right off the bat, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Follow this link to see information about home remedies and treatments of broken big toe.

Runners, your healthy toes are a key to successful running.


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