Recently, I was rushing out the door, slipped, caught my toe and fell down my garage steps. When I was able to get up, I had horrible pain in my right big toe. I took a deep breath, hobbled to my car, and drove to my appointment. My toe hurt even worse driving! When I got home, I took off my boot to evaluate. It wasn’t horribly swollen or bruised, but boy did it hurt to walk on it.
I work in the medical world, but I do not have X-ray vision. Sometimes it is very difficult to discern between a bruise, sprain and fracture. Regardless of what you have, it hurts and here are some tips.
1. It’s not an emergency. You do not have to go to the emergency room unless there is an obvious displacement/disfigurement.
2. Rest. Stay off of it as much as you can.
3. Ice. Make an ice pack and put in on the area that hurts separated by a cloth (don’t put ice directly on skin-it can cause a skin injury). Keep ice on for 10Ouchie minutes, then remove for 10 minutes, then repeat.
4. Do not heat! Heat causes the vessels in the area to dilate causing more swelling.
5. Elevate it above the level of your heart (Recliners do not work to elevate above the level of the heart! I recommend laying on the couch and putting your foot over the back of your couch.)
6. If there are no contraindications (ie kidney or liver disease or high risk of bleeding) take 800 mg of ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory) every 8 hours with a large glass of water and take 1000 mg of acetaminophen (pain) every 6 hours with a large glass of water. Space them out so that you have pain relief around the clock.
7. Make an appointment with a podiatrist. They take specialty X-rays to evaluate to bones of the feet to see if there is a fracture.
8. Once evaluated, follow your podiatrist’s recommendations!
I initially went to my primary care physician who ordered X-rays. The report said there was no fracture. But because I was having difficulty walking on it, he immediately sent me to a podiatrist. The podiatrist did his own X-rays and found a pretty significant fracture. He prescribed steroids, buddy taped my toe to the one next to it for additional support, and gave me a special shoe with a non-flexible sole to wear. I have to return in a week for follow up X-rays to make sure my fracture is healing appropriately. He was also very helpful in giving me tips to get through an upcoming trip for a destination wedding. Foot injuries happen often and hopefully you now know what to do to recover from them!
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