Dr. MOL, did I break my toe?

Dear Dr. MOL:

Last night I stubbed my baby toe and it hurt in a "oh that might not be normal" way. Severe dull pain along the side of my foot. The initial pain subsided after awhile and I didn't feel it when I was sleeping. Got up to feed the baby and it hurts to walk (but I can keep the weight off it mostly) and maintains a throbbing pain for a few minutes after I sit down, then nothing. I can move it (dull pain) but touching/squeezing it doesn't hurt at all. It doesn't look swollen or purple or anything. Looks like my toe.

Here's the thing: everything Dr. Google is telling me to do for a broken toe (if that's what it is) is basically buddy wrap it and ice it, and some articles were basically saying its a diy thing, especially for the baby toe. Does this sound like a good course of action, Dr. MOL? I am not sure if schlepping myself, my preschooler, and a very mobile, curious baby to the doctor will be prudent if buddy wrapping/ice would be probably what I'll need no matter what.

Obviously if it gets worse I will go to the real doctor because I don't want a gimpy foot and there's no one else to run after the baby with bad judgment who lives in my house. But the fact that touching it doesn't hurt (and there's no sharp pain) makes me wonder if it's not a doctor worthy thing anyway?

Thanks for any suggestions, and I know you are not a real doctor.

I'm no real doctor but I've done this more times than I recall and always just ice it, tape it and wear Birkenstocks for a week or so will no Ill effects...yet...

I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV or on MOL.

I have twice broken my baby toe (different feet). Yes, there isn't much they can do for it but I'd still go to a doctor and get it X-rayed and find out what is going on. If it hurts when you stand and walk the chances are good it's broken. It's not an emergency but I'm the type who would rather have it checked out.

The main thing I've learned is to always wear slippers at home so there is no chance of doing this again. I'd rather go barefoot a lot of the time but that's why this has happened to me in the past.

I've broken a few toes including my pinky. If it's not that painful, I agree you can tape/set it at home and see how it feels in a few days. Since your pinky toe doesn't do a lot, I think it'll be ok unless it's a horrific break and turns sideways. But if it was another toe, I'd go see the doctor. My big toe has arthritis in it because I didn't receive proper care and wear the fracture shoe I should have worn. I hope your toe feels better soon!

I did break a toe some years back.

ER can confirm w Xray, then they will wrap to next toe, and give you a sandal with non-bending sole. Not bending foot while walking helps toe heal faster.

If it still hurts to stand/walk this morning, I would recommend that you see someone who is a real doctor (I'm not) and find out what you are dealing with.

joan_crystal said:

If it still hurts to stand/walk this morning, I would see someone who is a real doctor (I'm not) and find out what you are dealing with.

In this instance, I would disagree. It hurts because she stubbed it badly. Even if broken, there is nothing a doctor can do for a baby toe that you can't do at home.

I'd say see a doctor in a few days if it isn't any better. Meanwhile, do the buddy taping, ice from time to time, and the non-bending shoe mentioned by Tomcat sounds like it would be an excellent idea. Bottom line, it sounds like a DIY home care thing to me, but keep an eye on it for awhile.

Since my balance has been permanently compromised by the whole Meniere's disease experience, I always wear fairly protective footwear around the house because I'm a little klutzy now. Shearling clogs with hard rubber soles in winter, hard rubber soled flipflops in summer. That way, if I stub my toes on something, the rubber cushions the impact without letting it directly impact my feet.

As others before me here have said, you can treat it at home if it's a pinky toe break in one of the tiny phalanges bones. What I'm concerned by is your mentioning the pain along the side of your foot. It may be a different story if you have cracked the head of the 5th metatarsal (or a Jones fracture, sorta). That might be something a podiatrist might treat similar to a stress fracture at that location. If you still have pain along side your foot in spite of the icing and buddy-splitting tomorrow, check with a doctor.

I would go to a podiatrist rather than ER, doctor or walk in clinic. They specialize in feet and will be able to get you in & out quicker than any other option and will have all the necessary walking boots or shoes if needed. Podiatrist X-ray machines are cool - you just stand on them.

Agree you need to rule out that the joint is involved.

Well, I think afa is already past the point where an ER would be appropriate. But I agree that a podiatrist would be the way to go if there isn't significant improvement very soon or if the pain on the side of the foot persists.

Thanks, all! Buddy taped and wearing good slippers inside. We'll see how the rest of the day goes. It's just kind of a dull ache when I walk, and no pain if I'm just sitting. The pain on the side of the foot was right after the initial bonk; now the pain is just in the toe and the joint, though that's probably not a good thing. But it's not the whole side of my foot anymore. If I squeeze the joint at my baby toe, it's a little tender, but not any kind of serious pain; the toe itself doesn't hurt at all if I squeeze it. The long "baby toe bone" that goes along the side of my foot feels fine -- no tenderness at all if I press on it.

I had foot surgery to correct severe bunions almost a decade ago so I am very careful with the comfort of my feet! I don't know if I need to go see my primary doctor first to get a referral to a podiatrist....need to check with my insurance. Hopefully I won't need to, but perhaps I'll be back here in a few days for podiatrist recommendations. oh oh

Regardless, thank you for chiming in, everyone. It's interesting how the opinions are split...either, "yeah it's fine!" or "go to a doc!!" Honestly, I think if I had childcare I'd go to a doctor right away because I'm always of the opinion to get it checked out by a professional, but the thought of trying to get myself and the kids there is stressing me out, especially if there isn't anything the doctor can do past what I'm doing already.

Sorry about this. Hope it feels better soon!

Bixefixed beat me to it. If it's Jones fracture on the side of the foot that will need proper medical attention.

Listen to @bikefixed.

If its your pinky toe there isn't much they are gonna do. You should still get it checked out though as it may actually be your foot and not the toe at all. Also worth a look to make sure the break didn't cause any other damage that could get worse and you move around.

Edit: I see the other NOT MD's beat me to it.

Dr. Google is telling me the Jones Fracture is more towards the ankle rather than the toe? The only pain i feel is the toe knuckle right where the toe and foot meet.

A very good sign, afa. That metatarsal goes a long way though, from the mid-foot area all the way to the base of the toe. You don't want it to be that so let's all just cross our, uh, toes for good luck.

Afa: Glad you are doing the buddy wrap/non-bending sole thing. Feel better and try not to stress yourself too much over it -- the more stressed/focused you are on the toe area, the more it is going to hurt -- but do be aware enough of what is going on if pain increases to the point where it forces you to focus on the injury.

I always thought if you can move it relatively well chances are it's not broken. I'm not sure you can move a broken toe.

I saw this early this am, but couldn't reply. I would have said that as a busy mom who always takes care of herself last, I would ice it, take ibuprofen, tape it and give it a few days. If it still hurts then I would get it checked out. Of course, just 'cause that is what I would do, it doesn't mean it's what you should do.

So.......hows the patient?

Patient is fine, thanks for checking. oh oh my toe is still a little achey if I step on it funny, but I've been buddy taping and icing it and I barely notice it most of the time.

Thanks again for all the advice, doctors of MOL.

You should see my doctor. Dr Steinberg. He is the best!

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