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Stubbed 4th Toe-No Broken bones-But having to live with pain every step I take!

by Pam
(Norfolk, Ne)

Stubbed my 4th toe 2 weeks ago...I am a mail carrier and have been told nothing can be done for a broken toe, which I was sure I had. Every day I walk with pain.

To begin with the bottom of my foot below the toes swelled and also all the toes. No bruising.
The 4th toe didn't hurt except on the side by the little one and where the toe meets the foot. I have a burning like pain. Finally went to the doctor yesterday and they did X-rays...NO Breaks....Why am I still in pain? How long will this take to heal?


Hi Pam,

The first fallacy is the notion that nothing can be done for a broken bone in the toe. This could not be further from the truth. A broken bone is a broken bone regardless of where it occurs in the body and therefore a broken toe bone must be taken care of just like a bone any where else in the body.
I will make the assumption that the x-ray was accurate and did not show any broken bone. Having said that, if the pain should persist, you may need an MRI or bone scan, as some fractures are so small they do not show up on x-ray.
So, assuming you just bruised the toe, you still have to treat it. The fact that you are a mail carrier only adds insult to injury in that every time you do any prolonged walking (which you do every day) you are aggravating an already painful area and therefore the toe and foot continue to hurt.
The first thing you can and should be doing is taping the traumatic toe to the adjacent toe is an effort to splint the painful toe. By splinting the toe to the adjacent toe, you will cut down on the stress to the injured toe and it should feel better when you walk.
You should use hypoallergenic tape to wrap the two toes and you should change the taping daily. If you do not, you run the risk of developing an infection in between the toes from the perspiration that builds up during your daily activity.
Try that, if that does not alleviate the pain enough to go about your job, you may have to take some time off from work. Unfortunately, your work which requires you to do a lot of walking only aggravates the painful toe and foot.
I cannot tell you how long it will take to heal as I do not know the extent of the injury and the fact that you are required to do so much walking during the course of the day.
As a general rule of thumb, I would think about two to three weeks. After two to three weeks, you may not be completely healed but should have shown substantial improvement. If not, then it might be time to consider an MRI or bone scan to get a better idea to the extent of possible damage to your foot.

Marc Mitnick DPM

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