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05/11/2013 02:23 AM

broken toe healing questions

reruho
 
Posts: 76
Member

I broke my right little toe in February and I need some input from others about the healing and complications. This is in an non-RSD area.

I stubbed my little toe on the recliner and it hurt like hell that day. The next day it turned purple, then my foot started turning purple. I suspected it was broken but I became alarmed when I developed calf pain. I come from a family of clotters, so the first thought was DVT.

I saw a doctor and he confirmed it was a simple undisplaced fracture and told me the calf pain was the result of a change in my gait/walking. An NSAID and heat helped the calf pain, the toe pain was helped with the buddy taping. I used some of those gel packs that come with medication shipments instead of ice. I keep the gel packs in the refrigerator and the gel packs seem to have help with internal swelling.

Now it is 12 weeks later and my toe is still swollen and is bright red. I have a neuroma on my right foot and this toe is aggravating it. My foot is hurting and going numb after standing for an extended period.I can't wear my Yoga toes (treatment for the neuroma) because it squeezes the little toe. Even my sandals seem to squeeze my toes. I found some roomy sandals in the men's department. They are fine for work, but ugly as sin. I am wearing flip flops the rest of the time.

I have been trying to figure out why it is still red. The toe doesn't hurt when you touch or move it. I saw my PM and asked him about it, he told me to have my primary look at it. My primary said ,"Yes, it is red and I'll send you to the podiatrist." I have an appointment with the podiatrist but it is June 11. (Weeks down the road.) My toe could fall off my foot by the time get in to see the podiatrist. LOL

I tried googling broken toe healing and complications but couldn't find anything about discoloration, except for discoloration from bruising. I am trying to figure out if there is anything I can do to help. It doesn't outwardly appear to be infected. It isn't warm to the touch.

Anyone have suggestions on what to research? I have found that sometimes the question you ask is very important and key to finding an answer.

Maybe this is the new normal for my foot, to have a fat red toe.

Thanks for any information or help.

Reta

Post edited by: reruho, at: 05/11/2013 02:27 AM

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05/11/2013 08:00 AM
maddiesgram
maddiesgram  
Posts: 2330
Senior Member

Hi Reta,

Your toe sounds quite a bit like my left little toe which I broke in June 2006. Have you had an X-Ray of your toe? The reason I am asking is that my little toe was not simply broken, which usually means a crack type break, but mine was shattered down in the joint into lots of pieces. (Yes, I did say a bad word or more when it happened!!) Anyway, mine never did heal and at 12 weeks it was bright red, swollen and really hurt to wear some shoes and boots. I ended up seeing a podiatrist after seeing 4 other doctors first, and the podiatrist said that he could do surgery on it and remove the old bone pieces that never healed. That was 6 MONTHS after I broke it so I was ready for him to fix it! He said that I would be pain-free within two weeks after surgery.

I had the surgery in early Dec. of 2006, and within about three weeks the pain became very intense. I went to two ER's because I thought something was REALLY wrong. They ended up not telling me anything except go see a podiatrist and here are ten hydrocodone pills to get you by. They could SEE that it was painful. It was the beginning of my RSD, but the Podiatrist didn't diagnose me. He did send me to a pain doctor, so maybe he did suspect it was RSD.

I'm not saying that our toes are the same. I'm just telling you that mine stayed VERY red and pretty swollen for the next few YEARS! I could only wear men's huge Crocs or some kinds of flip flops. I was diagnosed with RSD in it and the pain became unbearable. In 2010 I decided to have it amputated after bone scans and MRI's and extensive blood tests proved that there was no infection or anything like that. It was a mistake, because the RSD started to spread a couple of weeks after surgery. I don't really regret it, though, because the pain in just that toe was often a nine and nerve blocks and other treatments only helped briefly. I'm just telling you these things to share my journey and not to scare you. Keep taking care of it, and though the ice I'm sure brings some relief and you want to keep the swelling down, it makes me think of how ice is supposed to be a big no-no with RSD, so you might try to use it as little as possible.

Take care!

gail

When I read your post just now it reminded me so exactly of my own broken toe experience, but it sure doesn't mean that we had the same thing going on. I'm hoping that your toe will heal soon. Twelve weeks is really beyond the normal healing time for a toe, though. I've broken two other toes and they were well within about a month and the discoloration, swelling and pain were resolved by then. If you haven't had an x-ray I'm sure the podiatrist will do one. Come back here and let us know what you find out. I'm really sorry that you're having to deal with this and just hope that it doesn't end up being serious like mine did. Good luck!


05/11/2013 04:01 PM
cfthb
cfthb  
Posts: 876
Group Leader
I'm an Advocate

Hi Reta -

Where is your primary RSD pain site? I'm wondering if this isn't spreading, which has been known to be instigated by injuries like yours, especially when the injury is of the type known to cause RSD, like a bone fracture (the #2 cause).

As far as using ice to help with the swelling and perhaps the pain, this should work as long as it *isn't* a spread. As Gail said, ice is a bad idea for RSD pain, but there's no problem using it on areas not involved in the RSD pain.

I don't know why your PMP sent you to your PCP; this is really in the PMP's area. To be safe, if it were me I'd treat it as a possible spread. In fact, the result of using ice should be a good indicator if it is or isn't. But until you know for sure, I think it's safest to assume it's RSD, meaning that your PMP should be the go-to person - not your PCP or some podiatrist.

Hope this helps!

Howard


05/11/2013 08:39 PM
reruho
 
Posts: 76
Member

My RSD area is my left arm. It started in left wrist/forearm after a chipped ulnar and undisplaced distal radius fracture from a car accident. It spread to my upper arm at the 3-4 month mark. It has not spread anymore since early 2008.

I saw the x-rays of my foot. It is more of what we used to call a hairline fracture or what is described as undisplaced. A minor but painful injury.

I have to agree with you about my PM. I thought it was strange too. It was not a good appointment. I was telling him about my bicep tendinitis and he want to know who diagnosed it. I told him I did. He rolled his eyes and told me it was just a muscle injury. I discussed it with my primary and she agreed it was bicep tendinitis. It started after I had been taking boxes (about 30-40 boxes) down from some high shelves.I think it was that description of being stabbed with an ice pick when I raised my arm that sealed the deal.

I saw a t-shirt in a catalog that said," Inside every old person is a young person asking what the hell happened?"

I did discover that flexing my toes is uncomfortable.

I don't think it is a spread but a strange healing. I don't understand why it is still red. I can't find anything online, I think I am not asking the right question.

I'll continue to use the gel packs to try and control the internal swelling. I think the gel packs help the neuroma too.

Thanks for all your comments.

Reta


05/12/2013 02:05 AM
jpcrps
jpcrps  
Posts: 1665
Senior Member
I'm an Advocate

Hi Rehuro,

I hope that you will keep vigilance on this. If it acts like RSD, you may want to get a nerve block series to see if it will stop a spread. As a CRPS/RSD patient, any other injury potentially can become CRPS due to the sensitization of the nerves.

I agree with Howard that being suspicious and cautious about it will do no harm, while ignoring the possibility of a spread may delay taking actions now that could reverse the spread.

When my CRPS began to act up in my right foot, hands, arms and face, my PMP (anesthesiologist with specialty in pain management) did 2 epidural blocks for me. It helped significantly with the the spreading area, but I had no response in the original area, so I am concerned that has become centralized to the CNS at this point.

My motto, "better safe than sorry"! If it were me and the symptoms looked like CRPS, I would hop on over to my PMP pronto for preventative care. The spread would be in the "window of treatment" for possible reversal.

Best of luck to you. Feel free to switch the post to the RSD section if you like, as it may be relevant there...(How can we tell if an injury is an RSD spread?).

Much love and hoping it is just a broken toe,

Jenny

PS - I have broken several toes and they are slow to heal and not much can be done about them - they get buddy taped as you mentioned and unfortunately they hurt like the dickens for weeks. But you are at 12 weeks. Seems like too long for just a break. Perhaps an xray would show if the fracture has healed, and the redness and swelling are still there, I would be suspicious of a spread.


05/12/2013 02:22 AM
maddiesgram
maddiesgram  
Posts: 2330
Senior Member

Hi again Reta,

I'm glad your break is as you described it so it won't need surgery like mine did. That could really cause a spread. At least that's one good thing. I never could figure out why mine was so red, either, until after my first surgery when it turned into RSD. I used those gel packs, too, ALL of the time. I never left home without one! And, I always was concerned that there was some kind of infection since it was so very red and very warm to the touch. But it wasn't. I'm sure your toe is really painful! I've had two other broken toes and with one I could barely walk! I just hope that it starts getting better soon!

Take care,

gail

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