Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is it necessary to cast broken bones?"
Do broken bones always get a cast? I'm an older woman and I recently dropped a heavy box on my toe. Now I'm sure it's broken, but it doesn't seem like the doctors could actually do anything about it ? unless they put my whole foot in a cast. Is it a bad idea to just let it heal itself?
Broken bones may or may not need a cast, depending on the particular bone that is injured, the severity of the break, and the potential for damage to nearby structures such as blood vessels and nerves. Toes are often broken as a result of trauma, and these injuries should certainly be evaluated by a physician. Toe fractures that are not treated properly may lead the toe to heal in an unbalanced manner that is not perfectly aligned. This can result in localized arthritis pain that is exacerbated by simple movement, such as walking. Not all toe fractures are treated the same, and in almost no circumstance would a whole-foot cast be needed. If the fracture is very minor, rest may be the only treatment needed. In other cases, a short splint or taping the broken toe to an adjacent toe can be used to immobilize it and help it heal properly. In other cases, your doctor may prescribe a hard-soled shoe to help take pressure off the broken toe. If the break is severe enough (causing significant pain or misalignment or damage to the joint), then surgery may ultimately need to be performed to allow the toe to heal normally. In any case, it is certainly worthwhile to have your toe examined by your physician.
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