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Great Toe Fracture Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

Toe injuries are relatively common, with the great toe being the most often injured toe. The great toe, also called the big toe or hallux, is made up of two phalanges, as opposed to the other toes, which each have three. These work together with the five metatarsal bones in the foot while walking, running, or in movement. A fracture in the phalanges of the great toe can be painful, but most instances of great toe fractures do not require surgery and can be healed through simple rest. However, some cases will require greater attention and possibly surgical intervention. If not treated, a great toe fracture can lead to long-term consequences.

Great Toe Fracture Hero Image 2

Toe injuries are relatively common, with the great toe being the most often injured toe. The great toe, also called the big toe or hallux, is made up of two phalanges, as opposed to the other toes, which each have three. These work together with the five metatarsal bones in the foot while walking, running, or in movement.A fracture in the phalanges of the great toe can be painful, but most instances of great toe fractures do not require surgery and can be healed through simple rest. However, some cases will require greater attention and possibly surgical intervention. If not treated, a great toe fracture can lead to long-term consequences.

What causes Great Toe Fracture?

A great toe fracture is usually caused by a direct force such as stubbing the great toe or dropping an object on the toe. It is common in lots of sports, especially those which involve high-impact activity on the feet, such as sprinting, kicking, or jumping.

Hairline fractures called ‘stress fractures’ can also develop from repetitive activity that impacts the toe, rather than a single high-impact incident. These can manifest long after the activity has ceased.

Great toe fracture is most common in these sports:

  • Football
  • Dance
  • Basketball
  • Running
  • Gymnastics
  • Soccer
  • Martial arts

Symptoms

 

The most common signs of a great toe fracture include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Deformity (including bruising and discoloration)
  • Difficulty walking

 

When to see a doctor

 

Contact your physician if the toe is very swollen or deformed, if you experience pain for more than a few days, or if you have trouble walking normally or wearing shoes. In order to make a diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe the following imaging tests:

  • X-Ray
  • CT Scan
  • Ultrasound

 

Non-operative treatment

Most great toe fractures can be treated non-operatively at home, for example, with rest, buddy taping the toes together, applying ice, and elevation. Note that you should not apply ice for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Supportive footwear such as an open-toe shoe or wider-than-usual shoe can also be employed. Painkillers and anti-inflammatories can help relieve discomfort and swelling.

Great Toe Fracture

Surgical Treatment

 

Operational intervention is rare but occasionally needed when there is a significant deformity, or the fracture is intra-articular (i.e., involves the joint), which can heighten the risk of osteoarthritis. In these cases, the surgeon may need to pin the toe in place, and you may also need a cast to support your recovery.

 

Recovery

 

The recovery period is usually very quick–about three weeks–but if surgery is required, recuperation could take up to six weeks. Your doctor may give you a special walking boot, toe plate or stiff-toe shoe during this period.

When it comes to sporting activity, you can return to play when you have regained the full range of motion and strength without any pain

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