Big news out there in celebrity vacation-land. While on vacation, Rihanna dropped a bottle on her foot while bartending, resulting in a broken toe and making for an interesting tweet. While some thought Chris Brown was headed to her rescue, don’t worry, those were all rumors. This being summer, it’s a common occurrence (the injury, not the mechanism), seemingly almost daily in my NYC podiatry office.
There are three bones in each toe, and these bones are subject to a great deal of force. A fracture occurs when the force is strong enough to produce a crack in the bone. The affected toe may be painful, swollen and bruised, or may look almost normal. For the most part, toe fractures heal very well, and almost never require any sort of treatment beyond splinting and a comfortable shoe.
So what should you do if you suspect a broken toe? Bandaging one toe to the next will help to stabilize the toe, and should relieve much of the pain. The vast majority of fractures are readily apparent on X-ray, which would be the first line diagnostic step. Although rare, there are fractures that require a small amount of manipulation to re-align the fragments. This can be done in an office under local anesthesia, but again, this is very rare. Barring any unusual type of fracture, or systemic condition that can inhibit healing such as diabetes, smoking, or osteoporosis, most toe fractures heal within 3-4 weeks.
So next time you are on a yacht, acting as bartender, try to be careful not to drop any heavy objects on your foot. Of course if you do, I will be in my NYC podiatry office for most of the summer, waiting for you along with the ankle sprains, stress fractures, puncture wounds and running injuries that come limping in as well.
See you in the office.
Ernest L. Isaacson, DPM