Big toe fracture
Last update: 27 August 2021
The hallux, commonly known as the big toe, is an important part of the lift and mobility that the foot offers to the body.
The hallux, together with the heel and fifth toe of the foot, provides strong support for a person standing.
When the big toe fractures, the entire stability of the posture is compromised.
Because the foot and toes have such a complicated bone network, it might be tough to figure out what’s wrong.
Here are the signs and symptoms of a broken big toe, as well as the best therapies for it.
When a foot trauma happens, it’s helpful to know how to tell the difference between a sprain and a fracture, especially if the pain is coming from the big toe.
A hallux fracture is indicated by the following symptoms:
- Sharp pain that doesn’t go away
- Difficulty putting weight on the sore toe
- Swelling of the big toe
- A red, yellow, blue or black hematoma
- Sensitivity of the big toe to touch
- Adjacent toes also affected
- Severe deformity of the toe or tip of the foot
- Accumulation of blood under the nail
- An open wound
A broken big toe can be treated more rapidly if these indications are recognized.
Early detection also aids in the prevention of certain consequences such as:
- Arthritis: Inadequate joint healing, especially if the fracture occurs near the joint, can cause early joint wear or hallux rigidus.
- Alteration of the foot structure: This occurs in the most severe situations when the fracture causes the toes to become misaligned. Hammertoes and biomechanical issues might result from improper healing.
- Infections: They are more likely when a fracture is associated with an open wound. People who have the diabetic foot are more vulnerable.
Foot hypersensitivity: The big toe serves as a foot balancer and can become quite uncomfortable while moving.
What causes a big toe fracture?
A fractured big toe bone, like other fractures, is caused by trauma or excessive force.
A broken big toe is most commonly caused by a head-on collision or a crush injury, which happens when a large item falls on the foot.
More rarely, this type of injury occurs as a stress fracture.
While no one is immune to this sort of damage, certain groups of people are more susceptible to it.
A big toe fracture might be exacerbated by the following factors:
- Several forms of arthritis such as osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid arthritis
- Osteoporosis, which reduces bone density
- Aging, which weakens the skeleton and increases the risk of falling
- Sustained practice of sports that put the toes at risk, such as soccer or running
Wearing open-toed shoes, which offer very little protection to the toes.
A fractured big toe almost always needs the assistance of a medical expert, such as a podiatrist or a physician.
While waiting for a clinic appointment, there are certain first aid methods that might assist to temporarily ease the discomfort.
For instance, the R.I.C.E. method:
- Rest: If possible, avoid placing weight on the fractured foot by using crutches or the assistance of a loved one to go around.
- Ice: Wrap the injury in a towel and apply a cold compress on it.
- Compression: If the situation allows, gently bandage the foot without over-tightening it
- Elevation: To reduce swelling, place the painful foot on a pillow so that it is higher than the heart
The big toe tends to be more severely fractured than the rest of the foot.
As a result, it needs the attention of a podiatrist or a physician.
The injured region of the foot may only be diagnosed and treated by a podiatrist or physician.
The podiatrist takes the following steps to ensure that a big toe fracture is identified without a doubt:
- A visual examination of the toes to determine the overall condition of the big toe and the rest of the foot
- A biomechanical examination to determine if the toe has been displaced from its natural axis
- A digital x-ray of the foot, which clarifies the location of the fracture. It also offers the possibility of ruling out other types of injuries such as sprains or cracks in the big toe bone.
Once the problem has been understood, the expert will devise a treatment strategy specific to the big toe’s condition.
The following treatments may be suggested:
- Tandem fixation, which involves tying the big toe to the second toe for a period of time
- Immobilization of the foot with a splint or walking boot
- Surgical realignment of the big toe
- Puncture of the blood that has accumulated under the traumatic nail
The longer a hallux fracture is left untreated, the more difficult it will be to heal.
As a result, it’s critical to see a podiatrist as soon as feasible.
PiedReseau – Learn more
Do you want to learn more about the big toe fracture? We regularly publish articles similar to this one in our Practical Tips section!
Despite the fact that the PiedReseau site contains invaluable information, it is not a substitute for a professional consultation at a podiatric clinic.
Take care of your feet, they’re precious!