How Long Does a Broken Toe Need to Heal?

bruised or broken toe

Breaking a toe is a pretty common injury, and it can feel like it takes forever to heal. Most broken toes take 4-6 weeks to heal, depending on severity. As with all injuries, there are ways to encourage a quick recovery, and there are ways you’ll be told will speed up healing that actually don’t. In this article, we’ll talk you through how to deal with a broken toe and get better quickly. (If you’re not sure, find out if your toe is broken or just bruised)

Can I speed up broken toe healing?

While it’s not really possible to make your bones heal more quickly, it is possible to give them the best environment to do so and prevent further injury. After all, your body can only heal so much so it’s best not to give it any new distractions!

Here are some tips to get you on the road to recovery as quickly as possible:

  • Ice and Rest – For most toe injuries, the first step to a speedy recovery is staying off the injured toe and icing it to reduce inflammation.
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medication – Taking medication to reduce your pain will reduce the stress on your body, and anti-inflammatory drugs will reduce swelling which also aids healing.
  • Splinting, casting or a flat shoe – Any of these strategies might be used by a podiatrist to treat a broken toe (and they do need to be implemented by a medical professional). They help to put the toe back into the correct position and limit movement, both essential for a full recovery.

Keep in mind that these tips are not medical advice, and you should consult a doctor for treatment of a broken toe

There are also some things you should NOT do to speed up healing:

  • Don’t skip going to the doctor! A doctor can help you assess how bad your injury is, what needs to be done to heal the toe and give you a personalized answer to how long it will take to heal.
  • Don’t move your toe! It’s an old wives’ tale that if you can move your toe, it’s not broken. This isn’t true, and you can worsen your injury by moving a broken toe.
  • Don’t soak your toe! Heat will increase swelling, which will not help your toe and may make matters worse.

How do I sleep with a broken toe?

You might have noticed that reducing swelling is a key ingredient to a quicker recovery from a broken toe. How you sleep can also help reduce swelling. Elevating your foot above your heart keeps blood from pooling and causing swelling around the break. 

It can be a bit challenging to find a way to sleep with a broken toe, but here are our tips:

  • Use pillows – Propping your foot up on pillows can help you keep it elevated while you sleep.
  • Sleep on your back – It’s much more difficult to keep your foot up when you sleep on your stomach or side so try to sleep on your back. You may need to adjust the pillow under your head to make this more comfortable.
  • Consider a recliner or adjustable base bed – While certainly not the most cost-effective solution, a recliner or adjustable bed can make it easier to keep that foot elevated while sleeping.

Do I need to take time off work for a broken toe?

The answer to this question really depends on how active your job requires you to be. If you primarily sit at a desk all day, it’s unlikely you’ll need to take much, if any, time off of work. Just make sure to walk as little as possible and elevate your foot whenever you can. Follow your doctor’s advice about icing and pain medication at work.

If your job is more active and requires a lot of walking in an environment where crutches or a knee scooter would be impossible, you may need to take some time off of work. You may also need to take time off of work if you need a splint, cast or flat shoe that is incompatible with your work uniform. Your doctor can best advise you on how long you will need to be away. In most cases, the time you would need to be away from work will be 1-2 weeks.

If you have broken your toe, or think you have, you can make an appointment with us here. If you want to learn more about broken toes, their symptoms and treatment, read our broken toe 101 article.