Broken Toe Not Healing: What to Do?

Broken toes are a common occurrence, especially in people who participate in sports. Toes can also break after getting hit by a heavy object. Serious toe injuries usually involve the big toe; injuries in other toes can simply be handled with immobilizing by attaching the broken toe to a neighboring toe. Having a broken toe can cause serious pain. In severe cases, you might have trouble walking.

Why My Broken Toe Is Not Healing?

You can tell that your toe is broken by the swelling, stiffness and bruising on the injured toe. A serious breakage will even leave the toe in a deformed state. Usually, the broken toe should heal within six weeks. For broken toe not healing after four weeks, the reason could be one of these:

You Use the Crutches in the Wrong Way

If you are using crutches, it is important to learn exactly how to use them. The correct way to use crutches is to hold them on the side opposite the broken toe. This might seem to be a minor issue but could easily lead to a lifetime of pain on the broken toe. The reason for this is that the natural movement of the foot will be affected if the crutches are used wrongly. The result will be inactivity on the foot which will lead to Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). Others will refer to this condition as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), but it’s basically the same thing. RDS can lead to a lot of pain even after your toe is completely healed.

You Develop a Bone Atrophy

Another possible reason as to why you have a broken toe not healing after a long time could be that you haven't used your toe for far too long. Although you experience pain when walking on your injured toe, you should allow it some activity. Otherwise, you can expect your toe to develop a sickly appearance in a few months as a result of bone atrophy, which develops on injured or diseased body organs after a long period of non use.

You Have an Infection

Your broken toe could also not be healing because of an infection. This is very rare, but when it occurs, it can lead to emergencies and prolonged healing periods. The infection will probably occur during the toe breaking event or during surgery. Of course, this does not always happen since the fractures will mostly leave the skin intact as a barrier to bacteria. And surgical equipment is thoroughly sterilized before operations. To determine whether or not your broken toe is not healing because of an infection, you need to take a blood test or an X-Ray. Alternatively, you may have to take a computer tomography scan, a tagged white blood cell scan or magnetic resonance imaging scan.

What Can Be Done?

Adjust the Way You Use Crutches

To treat a broken toe not healing after a long time, you need to first make some changes in the way you deal with your injured toe. Even if you are walking on crutches, you should have your foot touch the floor to allow for some natural movement of the leg. Learn how to use crutches correctly, even if it is not the most comfortable way of handling it. It doesn’t matter if you have already started developing Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy; the condition is reversible if you stick to the normal way of using your foot.

Physical Therapy Can Help

Bone atrophy can be cured through physical therapy, a procedure that enables you to regain bone mass. The condition can develop into a severe case and result in fractures. It will also take longer to reverse the condition if it is left to develop.Therefore, it is advisable to simply avoid it completely by making use of your injured toe. 

Treat the Infection Immediately

Infections in the broken toe are more complicated to handle. A doctor will prescribe antibiotics if the case is mild. Serious situations will require surgery to get rid of the infected tissues. Just like regular wound infections, the broken toe will need to be cleansed through procedures medically referred to as debridement and irrigation. This may be done several times. It is important to see the doctor as soon as you suspect infection as this could easily lead to a complicated condition. Severe cases could force you to take antibiotics for the rest of your life or have to amputate your infected broken toe.

Infections in broken toes can be prevented by avoiding drug use, eating healthy and maintaining hygiene. Chronic illnesses such as HIV can also increase your risk of developing an infection as they lead to lower immunity.

Notes: If you have been doing all these the right way and you still have a broken toe not healing, you should pay a visit to the doctor.

How to Avoid Breaking a Toe

You can avoid breaking a toe by:

  • Wearing protective shoes fit properly.
  • Being careful when taking part in sporting activities as toe injuries are very common in athletes.
  • Including foods rich in vitamin C and vitamin D in your diet as these improve the strength of your bones.
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