I am a 33 year old female living in NYC and I am an avid runner and I believe I may have broken a toe. Is there anything I can do for this or do I need to leave it alone?
Runners in Manhattan tend to develop more foot problems because they are run on concrete so much. Toe fractures are common in all runners, and particularly metatarsal stress fractures. The toes are connected to metatarsal bones at the ball of the foot. A stress fracture is best described as a pre-fracture or a microscopic fracture that is not seen on xray. They typically develop slowly over time, and most commonly involve the 2nd toe (or second metatarsal).
Symptoms of a metatarsal stress fracture can cause pain, swelling, warmth on the feet, redness, and bruising. Should the stress fracture progress into a through and through fracture then the foot can take a different appearance and lead to structural toe problems.
If you suspect a stress fracture, then you should stop running and have the foot evaluated by an expert with experience with foot stress fractures. You should not continue to run on a stress fracture. Xrays can show a stress fracture. Sometimes more advanced imaging is needed – such as MRI or bone scan.
Stress fractures will heal with time, and by removing the repetitive contact on the foot. Depending on the severity if the injury – the foot may need to be immobilize with cast and crutches. In my NYC practice, most acute fractures are managed conservatively without surgery.