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have you ever broken your big toe? advice on healing?  RSS feed

 
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I fell almost three weeks ago and the only result was a very sore big toe...it swelled up, turned purple and then within a week of limping around seemed like it was getting better.  The swelling didn't go away  though so I decided to go for an x-ray and sure enough it was broken, not a joint, just the first bone out from my foot.  They had me pick up a walking boot and I decided after a few steps that it was going to do more harm than good so I'm not using it.

I'm using ice a couple times a day and just trying to stay off of it.  The first couple weeks I did some comfrey poultices and soaks in epsom salts.  I go barefoot a lot anyway so have been avoiding my shoes around the house.  I tried taping to the next toe with a splint made of old blinds...it worked OK but I wonder at going on three weeks if this is all too late anyway and it's healing just fine without my fussing.  Still kind of swollen but not bruised at all and I can walk flat footed on that foot......

I've been reading too much on line so am going to my favorite source of information here at permies.

Does anyone have experience healing a broken big toe?  
 
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Almost all of the bones in my feet have been broken at some point of my life.

I do not offer advice because I am not a medical professional. I am simply telling you what I do for myself - and it may not work for anyone else and/or may not be safe for someone else.

I take comfrey tea internally, I look up the dosage that I use each time as I always forget these things.  I make my tea from both root and leaf.  I also take a tea of calendula flowers.

Chiropractic care is essential. Years of limping around favoring one foot or another have caused damage to other joints in my body.  I am skittish about letting just anyone do it though so I won't go to just anyone - I make an 80+ round trip drive once a week for treatment.

Elevating my feet several times a day is necessary to give what ever bone is currently broken a chance to rest from weight bearing.

Foot and calf massage from someone who has a firm but not aggressive touch is good for keeping blood circulating through the area and helps to prevent swelling and potential blood clots.

All of my shoes, without exception are zero drop or negative heel.  Brands are Kalso Earth Shoe and Altra.  This alleviates pressure on the bones in the forward portion of the foot.  Earth Shoe tends to run a bit narrow so, at the moment, there is only one style - a sandal - that I am wearing.  Altra has a wide toe box; I cannot wear any shoe that constricts the sides or top of my foot in any way.

And lastly, bone broth made from sustainably raised animals and good sources of vitamin D, such as sunlight, mushrooms that have been exposed to the sun.
 
Judith Browning
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Thank you Jeanine...

I am in the middle of physical therapy for another injury that is doing quite well...I had gone to my chiro for it and just wasn't getting anywhere.  

My fear this morning is that now that we know my toe is broken that I'll have to postpone PT even though I 've been going for two weeks with the same broken toe...just didn't know.

I used to do yoga and walk regularly and am trying to get back there.

Yes, to comfrey tea...I'll go pick some leaves this morning and get my guy to dig a few roots.  I was poulticing early on but stopped.

and I am elevating and icing...trying to stay off of it and just do my stretches and some yoga stuff.

I just keep laughing at this 'medical walking boot' they gave me though...it's huge and heavy and seems in the total opposite direction of helping to heal well.

Thanks again

and I've been searching for shoes.....going to check out those you mentioned.

 
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Chiming in my two cents for what they are worth, add the standard disclaimers etc. FWIW, I was a deep tissue massage therapist specializing in injuries in my "past life" before everything changed, so I may have good opinions :)

Ice reduces swelling, which takes down some of the pain, it also though slows down blood flow to the area, and slows down the body's healing process.
Heat increases blood flow to an area, which may make it swell more, and hurt more, but heal faster, as the body can do it's repair work better.
Elevating your feet increases the amount of blood flow out of your feet, which makes the fresh blood come in, which increases healing. Elevate your feet above your heart level, so if you lay flat, put them at least 8 inches up, sitting in a chair and putting your feet up on a normal footstool is better than nothing, but fairly ineffective for healing, as it it not above heart level, has to do with how your blood flows best. Do as high as you can physically get them. I put my feet up on a wall.
So looking at that info: when you hurt and need pain reduction, ice it, but in general avoid ice when you want it to heal. When you can handle the pain, heat it. When you have time to relax, put them up high, and ideally heat at the same time for best blood flow.

Nutrients that help:
Niacin opens capillaries, increasing blood flow to constricted areas. The process is called a niacin flush, and some people find it very uncomfortable, itchy and hot. Some of us love the feeling, it feels to me like it tingles and I know the blood is getting to my cells, and it makes me happy. It really helps to increase the flow to damaged and constricted areas, and if your feet tend to swell (when you aren't broken) there is definitely constricted flow. Try buying some 500 mg capsules, open a few, and dump half out, and take one a day to see how you react. (I have never seen a bad brand of niacin, any will do.) The flush lasts less than an hour, it's worth it, even if it's uncomfortable. I DO vote though that you don't shower while flushing, yes it feels great, and scrubbing feels so good when you are itchy, and I personally have a problem with it feels so good I scour myself raw. :D Niacin helps every capillary in your body open up and flow well, so it's one of the best things you can take to help your body heal and stay healthy. If you look at blocked arteries etc, the reason they happen is sludge builds up and the body can't remove it. Niacin lets your body remove all waste products, and add nutrients to cells that have been getting shortchanged.

Magnesium: You know that bones require calcium to heal, but magnesium is the other part of that process, and excess calcium overbalances the magnesium. American diets are excessively high in Ca to start with, as the soil is depleted and commercial dairy products (especially low fat ones) are high in Ca in a form your body doesn't absorb well, and very low in Mg due to the feed the cows are given. You are in Ark, the soil there is limestone, I believe, that's high calcium in your groundwater (if I'm correct about your soil) so you require extra Mg in your diet, even when you are not healing a bone break, and even more when you are. (Definitely don't add Ca right now if your ground water is high in it.) Good sources of Mg naturally are leafy greens, juice up a bunch, you need more than a salad will give you. I take Mg also, there are many forms, more or less absorbable by the body, more or less expensive. The one I like, a good balance between price and bioavailability, is magnesium glycinate.  Magnesium Glycinate  Magnesium is a good laxative, so start with a low dose (one or two a day) and build up to what you find tolerable. Take it with food to reduce this tendency, take it on a empty stomach to increase it. Take it on an empty stomach before bed, and I suggest you sleep in the bathroom :)  Mg and Ca work with good fats, vitamin D, and Vitamin K (amongst other things) to heal bones. So I agree with Jeanine Gurley Jacildone's suggestion of vit D, either take some pills, increase it in your diet, or sunbathe heavily while you are healing. K is also in leafy greens, juicing or blending them into smoothies will help a LOT. I also agree with the bone broth and comfrey tea, they both have a lot of trace minerals in it that you require.

The boot: You are correct. DO NOT WEAR IT unless you must to protect it. They trash your body balance, since they only give out one (I have never understood that) so your muscles get out of balance, resulting in pain, as well as setting your equilibrium out of balance, and you tend to fall and break bones (well, I guess that could be why they do it, repeat business :P) If you feel it needs protecting, I'd say a pair of good boots that are a bit big for you, and good thick socks. But in general you WANT it to move you want it to heal flexibly, not full of scar tissue and adhesion. Walk barefoot if it's safe, all you can. Don't tape it to it's brother, instead flex it more while you are sitting, keep it moving. Bodies are made to heal these things, if we don't hinder the process. I also agree with going to a chiropractor, if nothing else they can keep any limping from getting your whole body out of whack. Yoga is the best, if you aren't allowed in class, do it by yourself. It will keep your energy flowing and your body balanced. If you can do it barefoot on the ground, that adds all kinds of good energy to the process.  Oh, looks like it was PT you thought they might stop due to it. If they do, do it yourself, do what you have been doing, and keep your mobility up. Standing still on the ground barefoot in the sun helps with energy flow too, if that's all that can be physically done.

Have a lovely day, madam, and I'll happily elaborate on any of this if you wish, publicly or privately.
I curtsy nicely at you :)
Pearl
 
Judith Browning
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Pearl, thank you so much...what a wonderful informative post.  It will take me awhile to absorb, I just wanted to say I've given it a read through after coming in from the yard (barefoot, but with my big toe stretchy taped to the next two...lol....).  I've been taping during the day when I'm up and around and then leaving alone over night....otherwise I'm shoeless or if necessary with an open toed pair of Born leather slip ons that I love.

I've been lazy about elevating higher than my heart....will add that, probably legs up the wall and I haven't been using heat.  There is still a bit of swelling and really no pain, even when I walk and bend at the joint...just a little feeling of stretch and tenderness.

It will be four weeks wednesday although the first two weeks (before x-ray) I did not rest it and was still trying to do my morning walk in shoes.

I'm still in PT.....they were fine with working around my toe.  I'm looking at it as having a 'personal trainer' rather than 'physical therapy'.

I'm pretty sure I've got magnesium covered and D and calcium....no niacin though, I'll check into that.

I'll probably have more questions for you but at the moment that's all.....

thanks
 
Pearl Sutton
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A small addendum, separate post so you see it, rather than editing it.
Swelling is a positive process, it's the body putting fluid around an injury to protect it, and the extra water helps the clean out and repair cells (white blood cells, etc) have a space to do their work in where they can move easily. You only want to treat swelling if it causes too much pain (the pressure on the surrounding nerves is what hurts) so in general, let as much swelling stay as you can stand. It's a good, useful thing.
:D
 
Judith Browning
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Pearl Sutton wrote:A small addendum, separate post so you see it, rather than editing it.
Swelling is a positive process, it's the body putting fluid around an injury to protect it, and the extra water helps the clean out and repair cells (white blood cells, etc) have a space to do their work in where they can move easily. You only want to treat swelling if it causes too much pain (the pressure on the surrounding nerves is what hurts) so in general, let as much swelling stay as you can stand. It's a good, useful thing.
:D



I'm so glad to hear you say that...I've been saying the same thing to my husband when we see the area is still somewhat swollen.  I hoped I was correct in thinking that it was 'protecting' the break.  For a few days after breaking most of my foot swelled up and then did some colorful things.  For the past couple weeks though it's just been barely noticeably swollen when I compare to my other big toe.  I didn't know the explanation but thought it didn't look or feel like a bad thing.
 
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My toes are so long that I can pick things up with them, climb rocks barefoot... monkey toes, essentially.  So, I have broken most all of them.  All the advice already given is great.  Be aware though of the amount of weight the feet experience each day, and don't assume it is healed just because the soreness is gone - it is easy to reinjure broken toes before they are fully healed.  I recommend boots with plenty of room in the toe box area.  I like Ariats, because they are very supportive and comfortable.  You might even consider steel toe boots.  Once healed, walk barefoot some each day and really grip the ground with your toes - good therapy to strengthen he toes, which may atrophy while healing.
 
Judith Browning
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Wj Carroll wrote:My toes are so long that I can pick things up with them, climb rocks barefoot... monkey toes, essentially.  So, I have broken most all of them.  All the advice already given is great.  Be aware though of the amount of weight the feet experience each day, and don't assume it is healed just because the soreness is gone - it is easy to reinjure broken toes before they are fully healed.  I recommend boots with plenty of room in the toe box area.  I like Ariats, because they are very supportive and comfortable.  You might even consider steel toe boots.  Once healed, walk barefoot some each day and really grip the ground with your toes - good therapy to strengthen he toes, which may atrophy while healing.



Thanks!  I'm not going for walks yet, they have told me it will take six weeks to fully heal so am up doing stuff but not back to normal at all...getting impatient though

I have longish toes also...the one next to the big one has almost a half inch on all the rest and it alone puts me in a half size bigger shoe.  
Thanks for the shoe brand suggestion.  I'm looking for something comfortable for the winter with a broader toe.  
 
Pearl Sutton
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WJ Carroll: My toes too :) Due to weird complicated life stuff, I haven't been able to be barefoot the last few years, and it makes me utterly crazy. I have always picked up things off the floor etc. When I was young, I learned to write fairly legibly with my toes. Do you recall the silly song "They Are Coming to Take Me Away!"? There's a line in there about "basket weavers who sit and smile and twiddle their thumbs and toes" which amused me, so I learned to twiddle my toes. :D
Ah, the joys of a bizarre childhood... :D
 
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Yes to everything so far and take the idea of heat and cold a step further and alternate 10 minutes or so of heat, then an ice water pack as long as you can stand--or 5 minutes whatever comes first then back to the heat--three reps.

Step that up a notch and do a strong comfrey tea as the hot solution-- also, make a comfrey oil with olive oil and fresh comfrey, I would blend the two together and apply this in between treatments--or a comfrey poultice at night--lots of stuff gets absorbed directly through the skin.--blend up a thick comfrey paste with a little water.

The advice to find some one you trust is essential, and don't be ashamed or timid about telling a professional to stop if you don't like what they are doing.

I don't  know if this matters or not, but the pyrolyzidine alkaloids which are the scary parts of the comfrey are mostly present in the root and early spring leaves

I also would use some of dr Christophers cayenne heat massage oil on top of the comfrey oil to stimulate circulation, reduce pain and supply extra calcium. Cayenne Heat

Dr Christopher's also include a calcium formula--calc tea-- this also has comfrey in it, but includes  horsetail for silica-and lobelia to guide the herbs where they need to go-silica is like the reinforcing metal in concrete, and turns clacium chaulk into  strong bones   Calc Tea

and his Bone Flesh  and Cartilage  BF&C which is also mostly comfrey  BF&C

but since you have the fresh comfrey that is probably best, although, if you have continued problems, the BF&C has different herbs in it to help dissolve calcifications, expel parasites, and heaven knows what other miracles it does.  The story goes that a guy had a big toe that had healed all wonky and he made an oil out of the bulk formula and started applying it constantly, wearing sandals so he didn't have to fiddle with socks and shoes every time he applied it. Over time the toe got loose and then straightened and healed properly.  That's the story, I wasn't there.

Anyway, I included the links so you could see the exact ingredients and maybe get some ideas for any home made formulations
 
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I have broken mine. More towards the end of the toe, but I broke a couple of others too.
I was unloading a suitcase of my daughters off the back end of a pickup truck. I thought I had my foot out of the way ( it was dark) but I didn't.  Soooo..... there goes about 100 pounds....yes..100. ( we call her big bertha ) down on my toe.
God that hurt. I thought I was going to pass out from the pain.
My tennis shoe was filled full of blood. Bad looking.
I went to the er room and they took xrays and nothing else. Except painkillers.
I told them to drill a hole through my nail.  They looked shocked. I insisted.
But they used a tool like a woodburning tool tip. Stunk terrible! A drill is so much better...trust me.
My doctor later told me that my idea was a real good one.
You CAN do that with a drill. My dad did when I was younger. It lets off the pressure you have built up in it, plus it lets the blood out some. If you are desperate because of tue pain, you wont mind.. it is better.

Anyhow... it is now over one year and a week.
I have been wearing sandals because of the nail that is trying ( still) to grow.
It still has not grown totally back.
But if you walk on it alot and I did... it takes much longer for it to heal.
I had no choice but to run do things. I had no help.
Take care of that toe! And yes, epsom salts help.
 
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Hi there, we of the broken toe tribe.  Maybe it is genetic, my mom and sister have a penchant for breaking toes too. .  One added bit - the million dollar athletes ( and me ) use arnica homeopathic as a tincture, or salve - some brands - Traumeel or Trauma Care as salve in a tube - I get it at my local drug store or health food store here in Canada - or the tincture from my local homeopath or Thompson Homeopathic in Toronto.  Works for pain, bruising, healing...  I wouldn't go anywhere without it.  Please give that toe at least 6 weeks to heal before putting it to lots of walking and protect it even if it is just thick socks and moccasins.  My families problem has been going barefoot and hooking a toe on whatever is nearby as we whiz past.  You'd think we'd learn but the barefoot among us are incorrigible.  Best wishes for healing from Juliana
 
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Juliana Hess wrote:Hi there, we of the broken toe tribe.  Maybe it is genetic, my mom and sister have a penchant for breaking toes too. .  One added bit - the million dollar athletes ( and me ) use arnica homeopathic as a tincture, or salve - some brands - Traumeel or Trauma Care as salve in a tube - I get it at my local drug store or health food store here in Canada - or the tincture from my local homeopath or Thompson Homeopathic in Toronto.  Works for pain, bruising, healing...  I wouldn't go anywhere without it.  Please give that toe at least 6 weeks to heal before putting it to lots of walking and protect it even if it is just thick socks and moccasins.  My families problem has been going barefoot and hooking a toe on whatever is nearby as we whiz past.  You'd think we'd learn but the barefoot among us are incorrigible.  Best wishes for healing from Juliana



Traumed or Traumeel cream and tablets are far superior (at least for me) to arnica cream alone. (They contain arnica plus other ingredients. I always keep some on hand. You can buy it at health stores or online from places like Vitacost and Swanson Vitamins.

A European friend told me about it when I called him to find out if there was anything I could do to keep my face from swelling and turning black and blue when a horse pawed me on the forehead. My equine dentist had just flown into the state and I had two full days of holding horses I needed to do.

When I had my forehead sewed up they gave me prescription painkillers. But I didn't need any of them because the Traumed worked so well. The dentist swore my eyes would swell shut because he has seen that injury several times before. He couldn't believe that the Traumed kept the swelling, bruising, and pain away the way it did.

I must just be lucky or have tough toes. I've sprained both ankles more than once (one at a time, thankfully). But if I've ever broken a toe I didn't know it - and I go barefoot almost every hour of every day. I snag them and hit them sometimes.

Makes me wonder though as I have crooked pinkie fingers from training horses, but never realized I ever broke them. Maybe I just dislocated them and didn't know it. Maybe I have less feeling in my toes and fingers than is normal. Or maybe they're pretty tough or I'm just fortunate.

In the morning there was a little swelling which promptly went away when I reapplied the cream and took a tablet. Since then I'm used it for a bad kick to the thigh and it worked like a charm. And I gave some to a neighbor who caught both hind feet in the chest. No horse person should ever be without the stuff.

I used to buy either Traumed or Traumeel, but it became unavailable so now I buy T-relief (same thing - new name). I believe one of them was available in Europe and the other in the U.S. before the name change.   I highly recommend it for sprained ankles and anything that swells or bruises.

I either buy just the tablets or the ointment and tablets combo pack. I keep both on hand. There is also a gel; I just prefer the ointment.

SOURCES: https://www.swansonvitamins.com/q?kw=t-relief and https://www.vitacost.com/productResults.aspx?N=0&ss=1&Ntt=t-relief - there are other online sources and I have seen it at health food stores. I believe Whole Foods may also carry it.

*Edited 2/23/18 to correct the names of the brands available in the U.S. and add source links.

** The only relationship I have with those two sites is as a customer. I do not receive a commission or anything else from them - I'm just sharing where I buy it.
 
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