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Podiatry/Broken Toe Healed Incorrectly

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Question
Hi Dr. Katz!

About four months back I suspect that I broke my fourth left toe during gymnastics practice. I had a decent amount of pain and swelling, as well as bruising that ran up my toe and into my foot. I couldn't walk on the foot for a few days later, which was surprising considering that I have rather high pain tolerance (I once partially dislocated my shoulder and didn't realize until a few hours later).

I would have visited a doctor to get an x-ray, however, I did not have health insurance. So, I simply taped my toe and moved on with my life.

Now, I'm starting to think that not only was my toe definitely broken, but it didn't heal correctly at all. My toe is now curled slightly downward, instead of lying flat, and is turned inward. I have to tape my toe straight and then buddy tape it to my third toe to practice gymnastics, or else it starts to progressively hurt more and more, especially when I'm running. Also, whenever I tape my toe flat, it turns purple for a few minutes and then drains back to normal.
The pain is not as bad as it was when I broke my toe, but it is still quite nagging and now extends down into my toe joint that connects into my toe. I'd even venture to say that over the past month the pain has gotten worse.

My health insurance will be kicking in soon, and I was wondering what I should do about my toe. I know that it is rather common to have residual pain after a break, but four months seems like a long time without much improvement.

Thanks!

-Lauren

Answer
Hi Lauren

Unfortunately we have been told that, "Its  Only A Toe"!

Toe fractures can be more complex when they enter a joint.  This can lead to ongoing pain and deformed toes.  Also, even if you didn't break your toe, you certainly tear the support tissue around the toe with an injury.  So when the soft tissue support structures are damaged the toe can drift, become deformed and painful. Also, some patients report that they broke their toe and they may have broken the larger metatarsal bone behind the toe. Please see this this video with more explanation, http://www.thetampapodiatrist.com/blog/its-just-a-toe-fracture-or-is-it/

So my recommendation is that you see a podiatrist when you get insurance and have an xray to see what damage was done.  Treatment can resolve the problem.  In some cases it may be simple and perhaps you will need a minor procedure in the office to realign the toe.  This may involve a tendon release of the toe

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Dr. Marc Katz

Expertise

Medical and surgical problems of the foot and ankle. Pain Management of the Foot & Ankle using Advanced Cryosurgical techniques. Regenerative Medicine - Prolotherapy Minimally Invasive Surgical techniques Woundcare, diabetic ulcers and limb salvage. Laser Toenail Fungus Treatment. Specialized techniques for heel pain relief.

Experience

Podiatrist in private practice for 22 years in Tampa Florida Education/Credentials I am a board-certified (ABPS)Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) and a certified Foot Cryosurgeon

Organizations
American Board of Podiatric Surgery Fellow, American Society of Podiatric Surgeons American Podiatric Medical Association Florida Podiatric Medical Association American Professional Wound Care Association Cryostar certified in Foot Cryosurgery

Education/Credentials
Graduated Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine in 1988 Residency training Arkansas Foot Clinics

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