Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Toe & Forefoot Fractures

Toe and forefoot fractures are breaks or cracks in the bones of the toes or the metatarsal bones in the forefoot. These fractures are typically caused by trauma or overuse and can range from minor cracks to complete breaks.

Common Symptoms

  • Common Symptoms
  • Pain and Tenderness: Sharp pain at the site of the fracture, often worsening with movement or pressure.
  • Swelling and Bruising: Swelling and discoloration around the affected area.
  • Difficulty Walking: Pain while walking or bearing weight on the affected foot.
  • Deformity: Visible misalignment or abnormal shape of the toe or foot.
  • Stiffness: Limited range of motion in the toes or foot.

Cause & Anatomy

  • Trauma: Direct impact or injury, such as dropping a heavy object on the foot or stubbing a toe.
  • Overuse: Repetitive stress and overuse, common in athletes and dancers.
  • Falls: Falling from a height or tripping can lead to fractures.
  • Crush Injuries: Severe compressive forces, such as getting the foot caught under a heavy object.
  • Osteoporosis: Weakened bones due to osteoporosis are more susceptible to fractures.


  • Medical History and Physical Examination: Assessment of symptoms and examination of the affected area.
  • Imaging Tests:
  • X-rays: To confirm the presence, type, and location of the fracture.
  • CT Scans or MRI: In complex cases, these may be used to get a more detailed view.


  • Wear Protective Footwear: Use appropriate footwear for activities to protect the feet from trauma.
  • Maintain Bone Health: Ensure adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, and engage in weight-bearing exercises to strengthen bones.
  • Avoid Overuse: Gradually increase the intensity of physical activities and take breaks to prevent stress fractures.
  • Modify High-Risk Activities: Be cautious during activities that increase the risk of foot injuries, such as running on uneven surfaces.

Non-Surgical Treatment


  • Avoid putting weight on the affected foot and rest to allow the bone to heal.


  • Apply ice packs to reduce swelling and pain.


  • Keep the foot elevated to minimize swelling.


  • Buddy Taping: Taping the injured toe to an adjacent toe for support.
  • Splints or Casts: To immobilize and protect the foot.

Protective Footwear:

  • Wearing stiff-soled shoes or a walking boot to protect the foot and limit movement.


  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs, to manage pain and inflammation.

Surgical Treatments

  • Internal Fixation: In cases of severe fractures, surgery may be needed to realign and stabilize the bones using pins, screws, or plates.
  • External Fixation: External devices may be used to hold the bones in place while they heal.


Physical Therapy:

  • Gradual reintroduction of movement and strengthening exercises to restore function.
  • Stretching exercises to improve flexibility.
  • Gait training to ensure proper walking patterns and prevent further injury.

Gradual Return to Activity:

  • Slowly resume normal activities as the fracture heals, following a healthcare provider’s guidance.


How long does it take for a toe or forefoot fracture to heal?
Healing time varies depending on the severity of the fracture. Simple fractures may heal in 4-6 weeks, while more complex fractures may take longer.

Can I walk on a broken toe?
Walking on a broken toe should be minimized. If necessary, protective footwear or crutches may be used to avoid putting weight on the foot.

What happens if a toe or forefoot fracture is left untreated?
Untreated fractures can lead to improper healing, chronic pain, deformities, and impaired function.

Can I drive with a toe or forefoot fracture?
Driving is generally not recommended until the fracture has healed and you can comfortably use the pedals without pain.

Are there complications associated with toe and forefoot fractures?Possible complications include nonunion (failure to heal), malunion (healing in an incorrect position), arthritis, and chronic pain.

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