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What is a Fracture?

A fracture (or broken bone) is a disruption, or break, in a bone. Some fractures, called stress fractures, are microscopic, and restricting activity on the limb that is broken can usually treat these.

A fracture of the phalange can be classified in several different ways. Among the major classes are:

  • Torus" or "greenstick" fractures, in which the bone is not broken all the way around. These usually occur in the bones of children, which are less brittle than those of adults
  • Breaks in which the bone is broken all the way around but one piece is not displaced (moved away from) the other piece. These usually occur in mature, adult bones.
  • Breaks in which the bone is broken all the way around and displaced. Displaced fractures usually require surgery.
  • Open versus closed fractures. In an open fracture, the bone has protruded through the skin.

General symptoms of fracture include swelling, pain, and in acute cases, possible deformity. The principal goal of treatment is for the bone pieces to heal together, as they were before the break.

What is a Fracture of the Phalanges? ("Broken Toe")

The term "phalange," from the Greek word "phalanx," is the technical medical term for toe (and finger). A fractured phalanx is a broken toe. Toe Fractures are almost always the result of an accident, or by stubbing the toe. They are relatively common. The great (big) toe is the toe most often broken, and a displaced fracture sometimes requires surgery. However, and in contrast to most other foot injuries, a fracture of the phalanges usually heals well with little therapy, and is rarely a major disability.

Causes of Toe Fractures

The cause of this injury is usually a direct blow, such as occurring from concrete block dropped on the foot, a fall from a height, or an automobile or accident in a contact sport like football. Stubbing the toe while barefoot is a frequent way to fracture the small toe.

Symptoms of a Fracture of the Phalanges

Usually there will be pain and tenderness over the fracture. There will almost certainly be pain in the toe when walking. There may also be swelling, bruising, numbness, or tingling of the toe. If the fracture is displaced, the toe may look misshapen or deformed.

Treatment of a Fracture of the Phalanges

  • Walking cast with a toe plate
  • Wooden shoe and crutches or splint
  • "Buddy taping" the fractured toe to an adjacent toe
  • Surgery for severe fractures, especially in the great toe

The information provided herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a licensed physician.

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