Sprained Toe vs. Broken Toe

Breaks & Fractures

Nov 20, 2018


Stubbing a toe is ridiculously painful. It doesn’t seem like the level of pain you feel when it happens is commensurate with the size of the body part. However, how the trauma affects you will vary significantly depending on whether you simply sprained your toe or fractured it.

So how can you tell which type of injury you have?

Sprained Toe Symptoms

A person can sprain their toe from either a specific injury or from stress due to repetitive activities, such as those of an athlete or a professional dancer.

The main indication that an injured toe is sprained is that while it may be tender and painful, you can still move it. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should ignore it if the pain persists. When a person has a sprained toe, the discomfort should subside within a couple of days with the help of simple home remedies, such as applying ice and resting it.

If this isn’t helping you feel better, you should seek medical attention to rule out a dislocation. This is crucial to prevent complications such as the development of bone spurs or a hammertoe.

Broken Toe Symptoms

One of the most cringe-worthy moments of experiencing a fracture is that the person can sometimes actually hear the bone cracking when it breaks. If you heard that, it doesn’t matter how much you hope it was just your imagination. You likely have a broken toe.

In addition (or even if you didn’t hear the crack since some injuries occur in loud places), a broken toe will come with the following symptoms:

  • Persistent pain that doesn’t improve with the passage of time
  • You can’t move your toe
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • You can’t put any weight on the injured toe
  • Tingling or numbness

It’s also important to note that just as with sprains, fractures can be the result of cumulative trauma. For example, if you are a gymnast, long-distance runner, or have to repeatedly carry heavy loads at work, your toe may develop a stress fracture. While the symptoms of a stress fracture may be similar to the ones listed above, the pain usually subsides when you take a break from doing the activity that caused it.

Regardless of how you got the fracture, it’s essential to seek medical treatment to avoid deformities of the joint or to curb the risk of developing post-traumatic arthritis.

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you’ve injured your toe and the symptoms are not subsiding, let us help you. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.