How long for a broken toe to mend?
March 8, 2006 4:12 AM   Subscribe

About three weeks ago I broke my big toe and the doctor said there's not much you can do with it, just let it heal on its own. But how long will this take? I use a treadmill most evenings as part of my daily routine and want to know when I can start back again - should I start just walking for a while before getting back up to speed? What is the healing time for a broken toe to get back to "normal"?
posted by 543DoublePlay to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
What does your doctor say?
posted by FergieBelle at 4:54 AM on March 8, 2006

He was totally noncommital and wouldn't give me a hard and fast answer.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 5:20 AM on March 8, 2006

My wife chipped and fractured the bone in her toe last March, and it was about 2-3 months before she said that she stopped getting constant pain in it.

I know that the toe, since it's regularly used probably heals alot slower, so you may just want to give a couple weeks of rest, and then slowly ease into your excercise. See how it feels. If it feels uncomfortable, stop and let it rest more. I would however get a second opinion just to be sure.
posted by jackofsaxons at 5:45 AM on March 8, 2006

I've broken each big toe once. One time, I was back to full speed in about 3 weeks and half speed at two weeks. The other time it was full speed at about 6 weeks and half speed at 4 weeks. The second time, my boss dropped a safe on my toe and the bone split lengthwise, which is probably why it took longer.
posted by Lame_username at 5:45 AM on March 8, 2006

I recall it taking almost 2 months until I could really run again without discomfort, and about another 2 months of occasional pains until one day I realized it didn't hurt anymore.
posted by Tallguy at 6:39 AM on March 8, 2006

I've broken my little toe a couple of times by stubbing it... I assume. I never saw a doc for it. There was spectacular bruising anyway.

I was limping a little for about 3-4 weeks and more or less normal after 8, but I couldn't tug on the toe without pain for at least 6 months.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:42 AM on March 8, 2006

It took mine two full months before I was willing to cram it into a shoe and walk without a cane. The doctor had said six weeks, but that was a little optimistic in my case.
posted by malocchio at 7:13 AM on March 8, 2006

Six weeks sounds about right to resume most normal activity. IANAD, but I have broken both big toes and the occasional interior toe. Doc's right that there isn't much to be done, but immobilizing seemed to speed things up as well as regular icing & aleve. It can still hurt like hell up to 6 months if over exerted, but you should be able to do whatever you want in 8 weeks. This all assumes you are under 50 and normal health. Otherwise, all bets are off.
posted by beelzbubba at 7:57 AM on March 8, 2006

I chipped my big toe when I ran into a big rock on a beach while looking back to catch a football. I wouldn't have known it was chipped, but had to go to the hospital to get stitches to close the gash on top. It took about three weeks before I dared anything more substantial than walking, and the one thing I noticed (as with the time I tore a knee ligament) is how the body kind of forgets how to run if one hasn't done it in quite a while. Keep that in mind, take it slow, and don't push yourself if it hurts when you do try to ramp up your activity.
posted by AJaffe at 8:16 AM on March 8, 2006

Happened to me too: I must have broken my toe about 4 months ago without noticing it, a doctor said it will heal by itself
posted by growabrain at 8:53 AM on March 8, 2006

there's got to be a better way. i broke my toe in college, and i never saw a doctor, but it sounds like seeing a doctor for this problem is a no-op anyway.

now the main joint of my big toe is completely arthritic and swollen. i guess they all say "it will heal on its own" but they don't talk about how messed up your toe can be for the rest of your life. maybe its worth talking to an orthopedic doctor, to see if there's any kind of splint or cast that could minimize the damage.
posted by joeblough at 10:13 AM on March 8, 2006

I've broken a couple of toe bones. What I did was tape the busted one to a healthy toe or two surrounding it for a few weeks, just to stabilize it. Even bought a cheapo cane to walk with for a while.

Felt better in about a month.
posted by ducktape at 10:57 AM on March 8, 2006

I have one toe that I've never broken. The others all healed a bit differently, and at their own paces. 1-4 months is a pretty accurate and encompassing window.

In case your doctor didn't mention it, wearing stiff soled shoes helps a lot with the healing and "getting around" process. Also, pain meds with anti-inflamation properties (advil etc).
posted by Shutter at 11:29 AM on March 8, 2006

Note the difference between breaking a big toe and any of the others. The latter can be taped to one next to it and pretty much left to heal by themselves, but breaking a big toe likely means a week of rest immediately after breaking the bone and at least three more weeks in a cast.

When will you be "healed"? That'll be when you go one complete day without going "ouch my toe" at some point. It may take a few months. I guess it also depends a lot on how clean or messy the break was.

(I'm not a doctor)
posted by LanTao at 2:09 PM on March 8, 2006

I broke my big toe while sparring with a friend. IIRC, it took me about three or four weeks (with no treatment) before I was capable of walking around without pain.

I still have limited mobility in that toe, and if I curl it too hard it hurts.
posted by Netzapper at 3:02 PM on March 8, 2006

Toes are really good about healing up. I know, I completely crushed my right big toe about 2 years ago. I had to walk instead of run for about 4 weeks and had little pain during healing beside some serious feeling of stitching. That's not fun. The only problem I had was my kids stepping on it. That hurt worse than the original incident. (So keep it safe and away from bumps and nudges if possible!)
posted by snsranch at 5:51 PM on March 8, 2006

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