Toe Injuries

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY1116/2020
  • Departments: Emergency Department, Paediatrics
  • Last Updated: 21 May 2020


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information about your child’s condition. Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet. If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team caring for your child.

Is the toe broken?

Broken (fractured) toes are fairly common but the treatment is usually the same as for bruised toes, so we do not do X-rays unless we suspect complications. Broken or bruised toes can be very painful but they are not dangerous. The toe might look swollen or bruised and there may be blood visible under the nail. Injuries to big toes, or smaller toes which look misshapen or have possible complications, are treated differently and are not covered in this leaflet.

What are the possible complications?

Most complications of broken toes are rare and will have been looked for today by the doctor or nurse who saw your child. These include dislocations, severe fractures, severe wounds and foreign bodies in the wound. Rare longer-term complications include infection of the skin or bone and failed healing of the broken bone. More common complications include pain and stiffness, which may happen after any break.

What can I do to help my child at home?

  • Give children’s paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with pain
  • Let your child rest for a day or two, preferably with their foot elevated on a cushion or stool
  • Encourage your child to wiggle their toes to stop them getting stiff
  • Use ice packs (a bag of frozen peas for example, wrapped in a tea towel) on the sore area for 10 minutes every few hours for the first couple of days. Do not put ice directly on the skin
  • Your child may find it easier to walk on their heel for a few days. After this, encourage them to start to walk as normally as they can
  • Let your child wear shoes they find comfortable (some may find wide or open toed shoes more comfortable, others prefer close-fitting shoes)
  • Keep the tape strapping the toes together in place for the next week or so, then remove it (remove sooner if it is too tight, is rubbing or is uncomfortable)
  • Your child should avoid any contact sports (football, rugby, etc) until the pain eases and should be careful when riding bikes or scooters

Seek medical advice if?

  • The toe goes numb or tingly
  • The toe looks blue (other than bruising) or grey and is cold to the touch when the other toes are not
  • The pain becomes worse and is not relieved by normal pain relief medication
  • The swelling and bruising does not start to improve in a few days

How long will it take to heal?

Broken toes can take up to 6 weeks to heal, although there may be pain on and off for a few months. There may also be a bump or slight swelling at the site of the injury for several months.

Should you require further advice please contact NHS 111

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about your child. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you need information about your child’s (or a child you care for) health and wellbeing and their care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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