Fractured Hallux: Stubbed Big Toe or Broken Big Toe? [Best Treatment]

Do you have a fractured hallux? Find out the 100% best way to tell a stubbed big toe or a broken big toe? And then FIX IT!

Look:

  • Big toe joint pain can be improved with a few simple treatment changes.
  • We are foot doctors & we see this problem get better almost every day.
  • The goal is to solve this problem without medication or surgery if possible.

So, let’s GO!

bunion, hallux rigidus, gout, sesamoiditis, turf toe

Look:

  • A bunion is a pre-dislocation of the big toe joint.
  • Big toe joint arthritis is also known as hallux rigidus and can form a very large big toe joint spur.
  • A turf toe is the hyperextension and bending of the big toe joint. This can cause ligament and tendon damage.
  • Sesamoiditis of the big toe joint is the inflammation and possible fracture of the two bones underneath your big toe joint.
  • Gout in the big toe joint is the buildup of the crystal substance called the uric acid.

So, check out the big toe diseases by clicking on the photo gallery for descriptions!

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So, check out the big toe diseases by clicking on the photo gallery for descriptions!

Fractured Hallux: Stubbed Big Toe or Broken Big Toe Overview.

  • A fractured hallux usually occur as a result of severe impact and usually have associated bruising, but there are times you don’t have much bruising at all.
  • If you think your toe is broken from running or repetitive stress, then it is likely just a sore bruised toe or a stress fracture, not a broken toe.
  • Fractured big toes are generally more swollen, deformed and bruised.
A broken, bloody toe on man’s left foot due to injury.

 

Guide for a fractured hallux vs bruised hallux:

  • 1) Feel for a deformity – if it is uneven it is a broken toe.
  • 2) Wiggling your toe- if no severe pain or rubbing/popping sound, may not be a break.
  • 3)If your toe is extremely swollen (2x the size)- it may be broken.
  • 4)Compare that toe to your other foot, if it looks shorter or bent – it may be broken.
  • 5)Check your temperature- after a break you are more likely to have the surrounding area inflammed.
Fractured hallux: stubbed vs broken big toe
How to know if you have a stubbed vs broken big toe guide!

 

Concerns of a Bruised or Fractured Hallux

  • Pain: Instant if fracture or gradual if a stress fracture from running.
  • Swelling and Stiffness occur very quickly, the toe will not look normal.
  • Blood under the nail called a subungual hematoma which needs be drained if swollen, or the nail could fall off and be abnormal for the rest of your life.
  • An open fracture with a tear in the skin is extremely prone to infection and will need to be treated with antibiotics at the emergency room.
  • ***If the fracture is not properly reduced – you will have permanent arthritis, it is better to play it safe and get it X-rayed if it looks really bad***
  • Often with fractures of the smaller toes, the patient is not aware that they have a fracture.

 

When To Call a Podiatrist for a Fractured Hallux:

  • Play it safe and go get an X-ray right off the bat, it probably does not need surgery or the re-attachment of ligaments, but better to be safe than sorry. Most people will get arthritis and pain for the rest of their life is it is even slightly displaced.
  • If the pain is getting worse, especially after anti-inflammatory treatment and icing as described below.

 

When to go to the ER for a Fractured Hallux:

  • Toes turn white, blue or gray colored- *Arterial injury*
  • Numbness or tingling *nerve injury*
  • Play it safe and go get an X-ray right off the bat, it probably does not need surgery or the re-attachment of ligaments, but better to be safe than sorry.

 

How to know for sure:

  • The only way to know for sure is to go in for an X-ray, because if the toe is not obviously deformed then it is impossible to know for sure.
  • There are some tricks that may sway you one way or the other, but this is risky because *If the fracture is serious and not properly healed – you will have permanent arthritis*.

 

Fracture Hallux Treatment

RICE Treatment:

  • Ice: This is not just about pain! It will decrease the inflammation and decrease the time needed to heal. Put ice in a bag and hold apply it for 15-20 minutes every 2hours or so for the 1st day. Leave some cloth inbetween the ice and the skin.
  • Elevation: Like above, it is more than about pain. Recline in a chair and elevate our foot while watching tv, the more the better, elevation can take days or weeks off your healing time.
  • Non-weight bearing: wearing a surgical shoe or using crutches increases the healing rate and potential. There are clinic trials that correlate a reduction in body weight to healing time and quality.
  • Pain medication: Ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatory medications are great at reducing inflammation, again this is not just for the pain, but it decreases the swelling and increases the healing speed. Check the recommended dose for your drug of choice.
  • Combine icing, elevation, non-weight bearing and pain medication gives you the best chance at healing as quickly as possible.

 

Fractured Hallux Buddy Tape Treatment:

  • If it is a small toe it is possible to tape the toes together with a piece of cotton in between to keep them from bending as much.
  • Play it safe and go get an X-ray right off the bat, it probably does not need surgery or the re-attachment of ligaments, but better to be safe than sorry.

 

What a podiatrist can do for your fractured hallux:

  • Get an x-ray to check the severity of the broken or bruised big toe.
  • Reduction of the bone under anesthesia.
  • Surgical shoe, cast or pneumatic compression boot to help prevent non-union or malunion.
  • Surgery if the bone is displaced to prevent arthritis or deformity.
  • Play it safe and go get an X-ray right off the bat, it probably does not need surgery or the re-attachment of ligaments, but better to be safe than sorry.

 

Traumatic Injury Treatment:

  • If you have a traumatic injury such as a severe bruise or broken bone, or even a ruptured tendon: consider protecting your foot!
  • The best way to do this is of course to see your podiatrist and get evaluated with an x-ray and potential MRI or CT scan.
  • If you are unable to do so it may benefit you to be in a cast, fractured boot, or even keep the weight off of it with a rolling knee scooter or other protective devices.
  • We as podiatrists frequently take patients off work for very long period of time when they suffer a traumatic injury, unfortunately there is no other way around us in labor jobs.
  • If you have a sitdown job there are ways to get people back to work quicker, but this can be very difficult otherwise.

 

Best Foot Fracture Boots:

  • A cast may be indicated initially, but gradually there are some benefits to a removal air cast.
  • This has recently been shown to be more and more beneficial for ankle fractures.
  • Our favorite fracture boots and their supplies:

Best Fracture Scooters
Best Value & Best Seller Knee Rolling Scooter.
Best All Terrain Heavy Duty Scooter.
Best Crutch Free Walking Device.
Best Elevating Specific Postop or Swelling Pillow
KneeRover Economy Knee Scooter Steerable Knee Walker Crutch Alternative with Dual Braking System in Matte Black
KneeRover All Terrain Steerable Knee Scooter Knee Walker Heavy Duty Crutches Alternative in Blue
iWALK 2.0 Hands Free Crutch - Pain Free Knee Crutch - Alternative to Crutches and Knee Scooters
Post Surgery Elevating Leg Rest Pillow with Memory Foam Top - Best for Back, Hip and Knee Pain Relief, Foot and Ankle Injury and Recovery Wedge - Breathable and Washable Cover (8 Inch Elevator, White)
Price:
$107.99
$269.00
$149.00
$56.90
Overview:
Very good reviews at 4.5/5 with 3,000+ reviews. Great Price.
Excellent overall reviews at 4.4/5 with 1,300+ reviews. Great heavy duty all terrain.
Decent reviews at 3.9/5 with 4,000+ reviews. NOT for everyone!
Very good reviews at 4.7/5 with almost 2,000 Reviews. Simple job but does it well.
Pros:
Great reviews, great price overall, what more can you ask for?
Good for offroad, grass and dirt. This is the better choice for heavy and tall patients over 6 foot and heavy.
This is great for athletic and mobile people. We have found success for younger and more physically capable people.
Great pillow for the first 1-2 weeks after foot or ankle fracture and surgery. Decreased pain and swelling.
Cons:
Least durable and no real off-road capabilities.
It is more costly than the economy version.
DO NOT get this if you are older, have poor balance and poor mobility. Higher fall risk.
Basically it is a pillow that costs $50, if you are tight on money, don’t get it.
Crucial Tips:
These can be tough on the knee and the lower back. Combine with physical therapy.
If you are a bigger person at over 6ft tall, consider this. If you need to be at work or outside, this is great option.
This is better for very mobile and physically capable people. Do not get this if you have poor weight control or poor balance.
It can be very effective and does a great job, but if you are tight on cash, use it on a better boot or scooter.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Fracture Scooters
Best Value & Best Seller Knee Rolling Scooter.
KneeRover Economy Knee Scooter Steerable Knee Walker Crutch Alternative with Dual Braking System in Matte Black
Price:
$107.99
Overview:
Very good reviews at 4.5/5 with 3,000+ reviews. Great Price.
Pros:
Great reviews, great price overall, what more can you ask for?
Cons:
Least durable and no real off-road capabilities.
Crucial Tips:
These can be tough on the knee and the lower back. Combine with physical therapy.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Fracture Scooters
Best All Terrain Heavy Duty Scooter.
KneeRover All Terrain Steerable Knee Scooter Knee Walker Heavy Duty Crutches Alternative in Blue
Price:
$269.00
Overview:
Excellent overall reviews at 4.4/5 with 1,300+ reviews. Great heavy duty all terrain.
Pros:
Good for offroad, grass and dirt. This is the better choice for heavy and tall patients over 6 foot and heavy.
Cons:
It is more costly than the economy version.
Crucial Tips:
If you are a bigger person at over 6ft tall, consider this. If you need to be at work or outside, this is great option.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Fracture Scooters
Best Crutch Free Walking Device.
iWALK 2.0 Hands Free Crutch - Pain Free Knee Crutch - Alternative to Crutches and Knee Scooters
Price:
$149.00
Overview:
Decent reviews at 3.9/5 with 4,000+ reviews. NOT for everyone!
Pros:
This is great for athletic and mobile people. We have found success for younger and more physically capable people.
Cons:
DO NOT get this if you are older, have poor balance and poor mobility. Higher fall risk.
Crucial Tips:
This is better for very mobile and physically capable people. Do not get this if you have poor weight control or poor balance.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Fracture Scooters
Best Elevating Specific Postop or Swelling Pillow
Post Surgery Elevating Leg Rest Pillow with Memory Foam Top - Best for Back, Hip and Knee Pain Relief, Foot and Ankle Injury and Recovery Wedge - Breathable and Washable Cover (8 Inch Elevator, White)
Price:
$56.90
Overview:
Very good reviews at 4.7/5 with almost 2,000 Reviews. Simple job but does it well.
Pros:
Great pillow for the first 1-2 weeks after foot or ankle fracture and surgery. Decreased pain and swelling.
Cons:
Basically it is a pillow that costs $50, if you are tight on money, don’t get it.
Crucial Tips:
It can be very effective and does a great job, but if you are tight on cash, use it on a better boot or scooter.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):

Foot Fracture Best Scooters:

  • Crutches can be very difficult on the inside of the armpits, this can cause significant pain, especially considering how long it takes to heal the broken ankle.
  • These are favorite knee scooters and walking devices:

Best Fracture Boots & Covers
Best Tall Boot
Best Short Boot
Best Fracture Boot Balance Device
Best Cast Shower Cover
Best Weather Walking Cover
Aircast AirSelect Standard Walker Brace / Walking Boot, Medium
United Ortho Short Air Cam Walker Fracture Boot, Medium, Black
Original EVENup™ Shoe Balancer/Leveler - Equalize Limb Length and Reduce Body Strain While Walking (Small)
Wilsco 100% Waterproof Leg Cast Cover for Showering, Reusable Covers for Leg and Foot Surgeries, Cast Covers for Shower Leg, Cast Bag for Shower, Cast Cover for Showering Foot, Easy to take On and Off
My Recovers Walking Brace Cover for Orthopedic Boot, Weather Cover in Black Waterproof Fabric, Made in USA, Tall Boot, Orthopedic Products Accessories (Medium)
Price:
$76.84
$45.10
$29.99
$13.99
$25.99
Overview:
Excellent reviews at 4.6/5 with over 800+ Reviews:
Very good reviews. This is 4.3/5 ratings on over 3,000+ reviews.
Outstanding reviews: 4.3/5 for 1,000+ reviews! Prevents hip, knee and back pain.
Amazing Reviews at 4.6/5 at 500+ reviews. Best reviewed and cost effective bag.
Great reviews at 4.1/5 with 200+ overall reviews.
Pros:
It has an air bladder for extra cushion. It is tall for extra support, as well as air bladder.
Excellent lower cost walking boot. With a orthotic and cushion, it really keeps pressure off of your ankle.
This works great to balance the opposite foot. This prevents the back, hip and knees from having any pain.
It is very effective but not perfect. The price is really good and it has excellent reviews.
Great cover for walking around in snow and rain, it is great at what it does!
Cons:
The inner sleeve can ride lower and the plastic around the rim can irritate the boot.
Less support with the less than full length boot. It is more comfortable but less supportive.
Does not work that great for slippers and less supportive shoes.
It can still leak, so be careful!
It is still not fully water proof.
Crucial Tips:
Make sure your lift the cushioning material along the hard plastic rim. Make sure to keep it pumped up. Use an orthotic and a lift on the other side.
Use a lift for the other foot to prevent back and hip problems. Also use an orthotic for the flat foot bed.
This is very cost effective and well worth it. Just make sure both shoes have good supportive orthotics.
Just be careful with this is not perfect. It can still get wet underneath.
Great cover for outdoors. Good at what it says it will do.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Fracture Boots & Covers
Best Tall Boot
Aircast AirSelect Standard Walker Brace / Walking Boot, Medium
Price:
$76.84
Overview:
Excellent reviews at 4.6/5 with over 800+ Reviews:
Pros:
It has an air bladder for extra cushion. It is tall for extra support, as well as air bladder.
Cons:
The inner sleeve can ride lower and the plastic around the rim can irritate the boot.
Crucial Tips:
Make sure your lift the cushioning material along the hard plastic rim. Make sure to keep it pumped up. Use an orthotic and a lift on the other side.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Fracture Boots & Covers
Best Short Boot
United Ortho Short Air Cam Walker Fracture Boot, Medium, Black
Price:
$45.10
Overview:
Very good reviews. This is 4.3/5 ratings on over 3,000+ reviews.
Pros:
Excellent lower cost walking boot. With a orthotic and cushion, it really keeps pressure off of your ankle.
Cons:
Less support with the less than full length boot. It is more comfortable but less supportive.
Crucial Tips:
Use a lift for the other foot to prevent back and hip problems. Also use an orthotic for the flat foot bed.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Fracture Boots & Covers
Best Fracture Boot Balance Device
Original EVENup™ Shoe Balancer/Leveler - Equalize Limb Length and Reduce Body Strain While Walking (Small)
Price:
$29.99
Overview:
Outstanding reviews: 4.3/5 for 1,000+ reviews! Prevents hip, knee and back pain.
Pros:
This works great to balance the opposite foot. This prevents the back, hip and knees from having any pain.
Cons:
Does not work that great for slippers and less supportive shoes.
Crucial Tips:
This is very cost effective and well worth it. Just make sure both shoes have good supportive orthotics.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Fracture Boots & Covers
Best Cast Shower Cover
Wilsco 100% Waterproof Leg Cast Cover for Showering, Reusable Covers for Leg and Foot Surgeries, Cast Covers for Shower Leg, Cast Bag for Shower, Cast Cover for Showering Foot, Easy to take On and Off
Price:
$13.99
Overview:
Amazing Reviews at 4.6/5 at 500+ reviews. Best reviewed and cost effective bag.
Pros:
It is very effective but not perfect. The price is really good and it has excellent reviews.
Cons:
It can still leak, so be careful!
Crucial Tips:
Just be careful with this is not perfect. It can still get wet underneath.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Fracture Boots & Covers
Best Weather Walking Cover
My Recovers Walking Brace Cover for Orthopedic Boot, Weather Cover in Black Waterproof Fabric, Made in USA, Tall Boot, Orthopedic Products Accessories (Medium)
Price:
$25.99
Overview:
Great reviews at 4.1/5 with 200+ overall reviews.
Pros:
Great cover for walking around in snow and rain, it is great at what it does!
Cons:
It is still not fully water proof.
Crucial Tips:
Great cover for outdoors. Good at what it says it will do.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):

Home Treatment For Foot Fracture Rehab:

  • After you are out of a cast or walking boot, you should transition to a rigid ankle support brace.
  • These are our favorite braces.
  • These stability braces are meant for when you immediately leave the immobilizing boot.

Table could not be displayed.

Broken Foot Fracture Physical Therapy:

  • Physical therapy is definitely needed to optimize recovery.
  • The dangers of not having physical therapy following an ankle fracture are the lack of joint flexibility.
  • It is very easy at the beginning to simply start walking differently to take pressure off your ankle, but the problem is that your keep walking that way even after the fracture heals.
  • In our opinion this is the number one reason for long term problems, the joint contractures that develop can lead to knee, hip and back issues that then last a very long time.
  • People may then need further surgery for those issues.
  • Physical therapy can usually last for 3-4 weeks depending on injury coverage and severity of the fracture.
Ankle foot orthosis for broken ankle rehabilitation
This patient is many months postoperative from a severe ankle fracture. We did fit them with a custom ankle brace and orthotic combined into one to allow for pain free walking and mobility.

What If I have Pain 6+ Months Later?

  • These are compression braces that should help you long term.
  • These are meant more for compression and fit, rather than absolute stability:

Table could not be displayed.

 

Pain Relief Options:

  • Consider menthol as an alternative to icing.
  • Studies have shown that the pain relief can last 2x as long.
  • This is safer than long term NSAIDs or other pills.

Best Foot & Ankle Muscle/Ligament Pain Relief Products
Best & Proven Pain Relieving Gel.
Roll On Version of Biofreeze Gel.
A giant container of value size biofreeze.
Menthol Based Ointment with Hemp Extract
Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel, 4 oz. Tube, Pack of 3 (Packaging May Vary)
Biofreeze Pain Relief Roll-On, 3 oz. Roll-On, Fast Acting, Long Lasting, & Powerful Topical Pain Reliever, Pack of 3 (Packaging May Vary)
Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel, 1 Gallon Pump, Green (Packaging May Vary)
HEMPACTIV Hemp Pain Relief Cream | Hemp + MSM + Arnica + Menthol | Relieve Muscle, Joint & Arthritis Pain | Effective Hemp Pain Cream | 2oz
Price:
$29.99
$26.40
$137.21
$29.99
Overview:
The Proven and Scientifically Published Menthol Based Gel
Same as biofreeze gel, but the roll-on is prefered by some people for their feet, less messy.
8.1 lbs(3.67 kg) of Value Sized Biofreeze!
This is an alternative cream: Basically Biofreeze + hemp extract.
Pros:
Scientifically proven to loosen up and relief pain up to 2x longer than Ice. Less effort than ice and great reviews. 900+ 5 star reviews on Amazon.
The roll-on application of this biofreeze can be easier to apply. Less overall mess.
If you know you already love it and trust the reviews. This is a great value that lasts a long time.
It has great reviews, loved by the all natural crowd. 100s of 5 star reviews with a near perfect rating.
Cons:
Don’t put this on open sores or mucous membranes, it will burn! It can run out quick and doesn’t prevent pain, just helps it.
Not as easy to spread in other areas, main difference is the roll on applicator, same solution.
A gigantic bottle that could fall over and injure you! Seriously this could be too big in some situations.
Basically looks like menthol(active Biofreeze ingredient), but with hemp extract SKYROCKETING the price.
Important Tips:
Menthol is the active ingredient in this and other hemp based creams. It works similar to ice, but once you apply it you can just move on rather than waiting 20 minutes. **Works great to get your through the night if you have pain sleeping**
Roll-on method is best for the bottom of the feet. No other real advantage. Most patients like it prior to bed for easy sleeping without foot pain.
If you know you love it, this stuff works all over the sore areas in your body not just your foot. I have had many people get me to order this for them in the past and LOVED IT!
The hemp extract is almost nothing and likely a marketing gimmick. It’s basically Biofreeze with some hemp extract raising the price.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Foot & Ankle Muscle/Ligament Pain Relief Products
Best & Proven Pain Relieving Gel.
Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel, 4 oz. Tube, Pack of 3 (Packaging May Vary)
Price:
$29.99
Overview:
The Proven and Scientifically Published Menthol Based Gel
Pros:
Scientifically proven to loosen up and relief pain up to 2x longer than Ice. Less effort than ice and great reviews. 900+ 5 star reviews on Amazon.
Cons:
Don’t put this on open sores or mucous membranes, it will burn! It can run out quick and doesn’t prevent pain, just helps it.
Important Tips:
Menthol is the active ingredient in this and other hemp based creams. It works similar to ice, but once you apply it you can just move on rather than waiting 20 minutes. **Works great to get your through the night if you have pain sleeping**
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Foot & Ankle Muscle/Ligament Pain Relief Products
Roll On Version of Biofreeze Gel.
Biofreeze Pain Relief Roll-On, 3 oz. Roll-On, Fast Acting, Long Lasting, & Powerful Topical Pain Reliever, Pack of 3 (Packaging May Vary)
Price:
$26.40
Overview:
Same as biofreeze gel, but the roll-on is prefered by some people for their feet, less messy.
Pros:
The roll-on application of this biofreeze can be easier to apply. Less overall mess.
Cons:
Not as easy to spread in other areas, main difference is the roll on applicator, same solution.
Important Tips:
Roll-on method is best for the bottom of the feet. No other real advantage. Most patients like it prior to bed for easy sleeping without foot pain.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Foot & Ankle Muscle/Ligament Pain Relief Products
A giant container of value size biofreeze.
Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel, 1 Gallon Pump, Green (Packaging May Vary)
Price:
$137.21
Overview:
8.1 lbs(3.67 kg) of Value Sized Biofreeze!
Pros:
If you know you already love it and trust the reviews. This is a great value that lasts a long time.
Cons:
A gigantic bottle that could fall over and injure you! Seriously this could be too big in some situations.
Important Tips:
If you know you love it, this stuff works all over the sore areas in your body not just your foot. I have had many people get me to order this for them in the past and LOVED IT!
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):
Best Foot & Ankle Muscle/Ligament Pain Relief Products
Menthol Based Ointment with Hemp Extract
HEMPACTIV Hemp Pain Relief Cream | Hemp + MSM + Arnica + Menthol | Relieve Muscle, Joint & Arthritis Pain | Effective Hemp Pain Cream | 2oz
Price:
$29.99
Overview:
This is an alternative cream: Basically Biofreeze + hemp extract.
Pros:
It has great reviews, loved by the all natural crowd. 100s of 5 star reviews with a near perfect rating.
Cons:
Basically looks like menthol(active Biofreeze ingredient), but with hemp extract SKYROCKETING the price.
Important Tips:
The hemp extract is almost nothing and likely a marketing gimmick. It’s basically Biofreeze with some hemp extract raising the price.
Affiliate Link (Buying through these links will connect you to Amazon):

 

Get Great Shoes:

  • Getting a great supportive pair of shoes will make sure that there is pressure removed from your ankle and foot long term.
  • This is especially important if you are flat footed and your foot starts to turn outward against the lateral aspect of the shoe.
  • Consider shoes combined with a good supportive orthotic for best pain relief!
  • The following link will show you what our favorites are.

Best Podiatrist Recommended Shoes