difference broken toe sprained toe

There are few things on the list of first world problems that hurt more than a stubbed toe. One minute you’re walking to the kitchen to grab a snack. The next, you’re rushing back to your couch before your spouse clicks on “Play” on Netflix, stubbing your toe as you turn the corner.

What do you do?

a. Curse out loud at everyone who has wronged you during your lifetime
b. Seriously consider divorcing this person who couldn’t wait the additional 30 seconds it takes to grab a handful of cookies, or
c. Hope it’s a minor injury and hobble back to your living room, a lone tear trailing down your cheek.

If you picked C, this blog is for you. Because while you may hope for the pain to go away on its own, it’s also good to be well-informed about any symptoms that may require medical attention.

Sprained Toe vs. Broken Toe: What’s the Difference?

When a person stubs a toe, they may suffer an injury to the tendons around their toe bones. If the injury is minor, icing it, rest, and over-the-counter painkillers may make you feel better. However, sometimes, the injuries are more severe and require medical attention.

When a person breaks their toe, there’s an actual crack in their bone. When left untreated, you may end up with a deformed toe, chronic pain, or post-traumatic arthritis.

Sprained Toe Symptoms

Sprained toes may happen by a lot more than stubbing it on furniture or a wall corner. They may also be caused by putting too much stress on your feet, such as when you’re playing sports, running, or ballet dancing.

The ligaments may have slight bruising, yet remain functional; or it may have a tear, which will affect the mobility of your toe and its ability to put weight on it. Some of the most commons symptoms are:

– Tenderness
– Throbbing
– Pain while moving your toe

Even if you didn’t break a toe, you may have dislocated it. Left untreated, you may end up with painful bone spurs or a hammertoe.

Broken Toe Symptoms

If your toe is broken, you’ll see the following changes:

– The pain hasn’t gone away after a couple of days
– Inability to move your toe, or a limited range of motion
– The toe is swollen
– The color of the skin around the toe is bruised and looks bluish or purple
– It hurts to put weight on your hurt foot
– It hurts to walk
– Numbness
– Burning or tingling of your toe

It’s also possible to hear a cracking sound when your bone breaks. If you think you heard that, it wasn’t your imagination. You possibly have a bone fracture.

That said, not all broken toes are the result of trauma. Sometimes, repetitive motion and stress to your toes may cause what’s called a stress fracture, also known as a hairline fracture.

These happen over extended periods of time of doing repetitive motions, such as long distance running or doing gymnastics. If you’re celebrating because you’re less athletically inclined, be aware that it may also be the result of carrying heavy loads for extended periods of time or by not eating foods with enough Vitamin D or Calcium. Some of the symptoms include:

– Swelling (but no bruising)
– Pain when doing the repetitive activity
– The pain subsides when resting

Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today

At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you suffered trauma to a toe, or one of them has been hurting for a couple of days without signs of improvement, it’s time to seek medical attention.

Contact us to schedule an appointment and let’s get you back to doing the things you love.