The Chicago Cubs pitcher, Ryan Dempster, is asking that right now. This week he broke his big toe. Many people think nothing can be done for a broken toe. Sometimes this is the case, but often a podiatrist can help alleviate the pain and ensure the broken toe heals as well as possible.
For sports fans like my partner at Friendly Foot Care, Dr. Michael Lacey, when he heard about Ryan Dempster’s broken big toe, he wondered aloud if, the Cubs’ Billy Goat curse was at work, yet again.
Broken Toes (Fractured Toes) Are Common
It is easy to break your big toe or any toe for that matter. Our feet are vulnerable, exposed to uneven surfaces, objects scattered on the floor–everything from dog toys to kid toys to last night’s shoes or work boots, to a package left in the hallway and on and on. It is easy to injure our feet or toes.
The most common way people fracture the big toe is by slamming it into the post of their bed in the middle of the night. The next day they show up limping into my office with the toe sore and swollen.
Dr. Lacey and I have also seen broken toes (fractured toes) occur from objects dropped on the foot, everything from a steel beam to a frozen turkey, and from every imaginable kind of sports injury.
Dempster’s “sports injury” is unique. He wasn’t sliding into home plate or running to make a great catch. He was leaping over the dugout fence with a flourish—trying to show off—rather than just walking around the fence.
Toe Injuries Are Often Avoidable
Most toe fractures or broken toes are preventable. To prevent nighttime slams of your feet into the bed post, just add a child’s night light to your bedroom. For Dempster, I imagine that from now on we will see him walk around the dugout fence.
For Foot or Toe Fractures, Remember R.I.C.E.
The first thing to do if you bang your toe (assuming you have good circulation and are not a diabetic) is follow the basics of foot injury — R.I.C.E. This stands for: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
The next thing is to see a doctor who knows feet (hopefully a podiatrist!).
What Will The Foot Doctor Do for a Broken Toe?
The usual way podiatrists treat a foot or toe fracture when the broken bones are in good, stable position is with immobilization—perhaps by cast, splint, or taping and padding. If the fractured bones are not in good position, they first need to be put back in the correct position. This may require the podiatrist to nudge the bones into their correct position or actually opening up of the toe and doing surgery.
The only way to know if the fractured toe needs surgery is with an x-ray and then by having the x-ray reviewed by a podiatrist or other qualified foot specialist. Consequently, if you are unlucky enough to hurt, bang or crush a toe, make sure you immediately seek medical care with a foot expert.
Source: Chicago Tribune
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