If you injured your toe and it is now bruised and very painful, there is a good chance that it is broken. Your first reaction may be to wrap it up and wait for it to get better on its own. After all, it is just a toe -- right? Actually, this is not the best approach. While a broken toe may not be as serious an injury as a broken arm or leg, you really do still need to have it treated. Here are three big reasons why.
You may have limited mobility later.
If the bone became a bit misaligned when it broke, it will heal in that same misaligned fashion. This may make it hard or impossible to bend your toe. While being unable to bend your toe may not sound like a big deal, it could make it difficult to run, jump, or even wear certain shoes. Misaligned, once-broken toes often remain swollen, so you may have to go up a shoe size to accommodate the toe or avoid wearing certain styles of shoes. If you seek treatment for your broken toe, on the other hand, your podiatrist will align the bone so your toe heals properly and maintains its original functionality and shape once it heals.
Arthritis may set in later.
When you don't seek treatment for a broken toe, it may not heal straight -- or it may take longer than normal to heal. There are several joints in your toe, so there's a good chance the break was near one of these joints. Poor healing can cause damage and inflammation to these joints later on, essentially causing arthritis. Your toe joint may become stiff and may ache when the weather changes. Your podiatrist can use physical therapy, orthotics, and other treatments to minimize the risk of arthritis as you heal.
Bone infections are a possibility.
When a bone breaks, it can sometimes become infected as the inner bone tissues are exposed. You may not recognize the signs of such an infection until it's too late -- at which point you may need to have your toe removed or surgically operated upon. When you visit your podiatrist, they can keep an eye out for early signs of bone infections and treat the issue before it becomes too serious.
If you think you might have a broken toe, contact your foot and ankle specialist. Don't just assume this issue will get better on its own.