Broken Toe in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Your child has broken (fractured) a bone in a toe. This kind of fracture may not need a special cast or brace. "Buddy-taping" the broken toe to a healthy toe next to it is almost always enough to treat the problem and ease symptoms. The toe may take 4 weeks or more to heal.

Healthy habits can help your child heal. Give your child a variety of healthy foods. And don't smoke around him or her.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • If your child's toe is taped to the toe next to it, the doctor has shown you how to change the tape. Protect the skin by putting something soft, such as felt or foam, between the toes before you tape them together. Never tape the toes together skin-to-skin. Your child's broken toe may need to be buddy-taped for 2 to 4 weeks to heal.
  • Have your child rest and protect the toe. Your child should not walk on it until he or she can do so without too much pain. If the doctor has prescribed crutches, help your child use them as instructed.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the toe for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Prop up your child's foot on a pillow when you ice it or anytime your child sits or lies down. Try to keep it above the level of your child's heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Make sure you go to your child's follow-up appointments. The doctor will need to check that the toe is healing right.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has severe pain.
  • Your child's toe is cool or pale or changes colour.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the toe.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Pain and swelling get worse or are not improving.
  • Your child has a new or worse deformity in the toe.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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