Broken toe

A broken toe can be painful, but you do not usually need to go to hospital. There are things you can do to treat it at home.

You may have broken your toe if it's:

  • red or bruised
  • painful and swollen
  • difficult to walk on

Doctors will usually suggest you treat a broken toe at home first if:

  • it's not your big toe
  • the bone is not sticking out of your foot
  • your toe is not pointing at an odd angle
  • there's no wound on your toe

Broken toes usually heal within 4 to 6 weeks, but it can sometimes take several months.

Do

  • take ibuprofen and paracetamol for the pain and swelling
  • rest your foot and keep it raised
  • hold an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) wrapped in a towel on your toe for up to 20 minutes every few hours
  • wear wide, comfortable shoes with a low heel
  • avoid walking around as much as possible
  • strap up your broken toe – put a small piece of cotton wool or gauze between your sore toe and the toe next to it, then tape them together to support the sore toe

Don't

  • do not strap up your toe if it's pointing out at an odd angle or you have hurt your big toe – get medical advice
  • do not put ice directly on your skin
  • do not walk or stand for long periods
  • do not wear tight, pointy shoes
  • do not play any sports like football, rugby or hockey for 6 weeks or until the pain eases
  • do not try and treat your child's toe – take them to an urgent treatment centre or A&E

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • the best painkiller to take
  • what you need to strap up your toe
  • if you need to see a GP

See a GP if:

  • the pain and swelling has not started to ease after 2 to 3 days
  • it still hurts to walk on after 6 weeks
  • you have diabetes – foot problems can be more serious if you have diabetes

They may send you for an X-ray to see if you need any further treatment.

[Last reviewed 2019-01-18]