Broken Pinky Toe – Symptoms & Treatment Options to Fix It
The pinky toe is probably among one of the most overlooked parts of the body. You probably do not mind it at all until it is broken, and it usually does. Foot fractures like broken pinky toes account for 10% of all fractures treated at emergency rooms. Many things put pinky toes at risk
A fractured toe is often very painful. It can be so painful that you may find it incredibly difficult to stand or walk. However, most toe fractures are easy to treat.
Having open pinky toe fractures (having an open wound) requires additional care in the hospital. Unless there are complications, doctors can easily treat broken pinkies.
How to Tell If Pinky Toe is Broken?
Toe fractures often do not feature grossly bent or malformed toes, but they sometimes do. More often, broken pinky toe present as a persistent pain just after the injury. They tend to look like normal with no visible damage, especially in children.
You can do a quick and accurate guess by simply looking on the other foot. An open wound in the toe wherein the bone or ligaments are exposed and visibly broken is an obvious giveaway.
Toe fractures can be very painful. The area behind the base of the toes may exhibit tenderness. Therefore, persistent pain in the foot after an injury should be always evaluated.
What are The Causes of a Broken Pinky Toe?
Physical injuries are common reasons for breaking your pinky toe. Here are the most common causes:
- Dropping something heavy on the foot.
- Stubbing the toe on something hard by accident.
- Slipping or falls.
- Certain sports activities, notably contact sports.
- Improper lifting.
- Vehicular accidents.
What is The Broken Pinky Toe Symptoms?
Note that the bones of the toes, including the pinkies, are continuous in the feet, so toe fractures do not always present a deformity. Presence of bruising, tenderness in the feet may indicate a fracture.
Sometimes, there is a discernable crackling or popping sound (crepitus) heard when the part is moved. Gross deformity and exposed broken bones are obvious giveaways, and you should have it seen by the doctor right away.
What to Do For a Broken Pinky Toe? (Treatment Options)
The first thing you should do is immobilize the toe and the foot. This will help reduce the damage to the soft tissues inside the foot.
Elevate the foot and apply ice packs (ice inside a cloth wrap) to reduce swelling and pain. Leave ice packs to the area for no more than 20 minutes at a time. Make sure to keep the weight away from the injured foot.
Try to splint the broken toe without moving it, even if it is badly bent. You can make a good splint using tapes and some cardboard. If the pinky toe is not deformed, you can splint it with the neighbouring toe. Do not try to fix or reduce the fracture yourself.
Open fractures are at higher risk of infection. The same is said to fractures with wounds that communicate with the fracture site.
Germs can enter the wound and cause problems like osteomyelitis or infection of the bone. You may also need specialized care if there are dislocated bones or if the doctor finds that the fracture is difficult to reduce (to fix). In such cases, the patient should go to the hospital right away to be seen by a specialist called an orthopedic doctor.
In the hospital, you might be given a painkiller. The doctor will check your foot. He or she may order several x-ray images of your foot to see the extent of fractures. Sometimes, a more specialized x-ray imaging called Computed Tomography (CT) Scan is needed to check for very fine fractures or cracks in the bone.
After examining your foot, your doctor will try to reduce the fracture by manipulating your toes or under the feet until the bones are correctly aligned together (closed reduction).
Sometimes, the doctor may create an incision to correct the fracture (open reduction). Most cases of broken pinky toes are immobilized using casts and splints. Only minor cases require a surgery where metal bolts and plates are attached to the broken bones to line them up together.
If your case involves uncomplicated fracture of the pinky toe itself and you are somewhat healthy, your doctor may simply splint it to the unbroken toe. This procedure is commonly known as Buddy Tape, and it is preferred because of its simplicity.
To do it, your doctor first applies padding between the toes, and then wrap the buddy toes together with tape. In addition, you must wear a rigid flat-bottomed shoe. The tape must be left in place for two to four weeks, which gives ample time for the bones to heal and fuse together.
Buddy tape seems easy, but you should really let the doctor do it. You can apply it wrong by wrapping the tape too tightly, cutting off blood supply to your toes and deforming the fracture. In addition, make sure to rest your affected foot for two to four weeks. You can still move around using a crutch or a wheelchair.
How to Prevent This Condition?
Most incidents of toe fracture occur by accident. The best thing you can do is follow safety rules. For example, wear the proper equipment or gear when playing contact sports.
Follow traffic rules and be courteous while driving, and be always vigilant for other cars. Don’t drive or play contact sports if you are drunk or under the influence of drugs, just don’t.
What Question Should You Ask Your Doctor When You Visit Him?
Ask your doctor questions if you or your child are having treatment for a broken pinky toe. Ask about the seriousness of the fracture. You should ask questions if you have other health problems like diabetes, peripheral artery disease, gout, or have previous problems like nonunion and gait problems.