How to Care for Your Child with a Toe fracture

This leaflet will provide you with information about Toe Fracture symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and home care advice.

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Toe fracture

What is Toe Fracture?

A "fracture" is another word for a broken bone. A toe fracture is when a person breaks a toe bone.

What are the symptoms of Toe Fracture?

Symptoms of a toe fracture include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Stiffness
  • A toe fracture can also make the toe bent in an abnormal position.

How is Toe Fracture diagnosed?

The doctor will ask a few questions about your child's health, examine your child, and then order an X-ray. 

How is Toe Fracture treated?

  • Toe fractures are usually treated with a splint, "buddy taping," or both. This depends on the type of toe fracture your child has and how severe it is.
  • A splint or buddy tape (using tape to hold the injured toe to a neighbouring toe) keeps the broken bone from moving while it heals. Taking good care of the splint or tape and treating pain will help keep your child comfortable while healing.
  • Sometimes your doctor may recommend wearing a cast boot or stiff-soled shoe until the fracture is healed
  • If your doctor advises giving medicine for pain, you can give:
    • Paracetamol (any brand) or, Ibuprofen (any brand)
    • Follow the instruction on the medicine package for the correct dose for your child
    • Do not give your child Aspirin as this can cause serious complications

Home care advice  

Your child should avoid sports and activities that might cause pain or reinjure the toe for 3–4 weeks unless a health care provider says it's OK.

To help reduce the swelling and relieve pain:

  • Raise the foot on pillows when your child is sitting down or sleeping.
  • Remind your child to wiggle the uninjured toes to keep blood circulating normally
  • Put ice in a plastic bag wrapped in a towel on the broken toe when your child is awake for 20 minutes every 3 hours for up to 2 days
  • Do not put ice directly on the skin.

Daily care if your child has tape:

  • If you do not see visible dirt on the skin, encourage your child to use sanitiser wipes instead of washing toes and foot with soap and water.
  • Replace the tape if it gets wet or dirty as directed by the healthcare provider  
  • Keep cotton or gauze between the buddy-taped toes to protect the skin.
  • Loosen the tape if it feels too tight.                                                        

When should I seek medical advice?

Seek medical care if:

  • Pain does not improve with medicine.
  • Blisters, rashes or raw spots appear on the skin around the splint or tape.
  • A bad smell or drainage comes from the splint or tape.
  • Your child gets a fever while the toe is healing.
  • Your child's toes are pale, cold, numb or tingly.