Lean on me
When you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
Musician Bill Withers probably wasn’t talking about sprained or broken toes when he sang those classic lines from his 1972 hit, but he could have been! Just like we all need to lean on each other during hard times for emotional support, a healthy and strong toe can provide the stability an injured friend needs during the healing process. This low-tech approach even has a friendly name: buddy taping.
When you sprain, dislocate, or even break a toe, the toe may not always want to cooperate during the healing process. It’s important to keep the toe relatively immobile at the site of the injury in order for it to heal properly, and to avoid an accidental re-injury. When you buddy tape an injured toe its neighbor, the healthy toe acts like a splint, holding the injured toe in proper alignment and supporting it as it heals.
Buddy taping is just one possible treatment for a toe injury that we may select during your appointment. It won’t be appropriate for more serious injuries or if you have diabetes or PAD, but it is often a good choice for sprains, dislocations, or minor fractures where no surgery is needed. We’ll do the taping for you the first time, but we’ll also teach you how to do it yourself.
You should start by placing some soft cotton gauze between the toes you’ll be taping together to protect the skin from friction. We may even recommend some additional splinting if necessary, usually a small wooden or metal piece. Then, loosely tape the two toes together with medical or surgical tape, moving in a figure-eight pattern. Again, we’ll go over the process in greater detail at your appointment so you can feel comfortable doing it yourself.
Generally, you should re-tape at least once per day, preferably after bathing. This not only allows you to keep the tape clean, but to check your injury regularly for signs of infection or damage.
If you suffer a toe injury, it’s always smart to get it checked by the team at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona before attempting your own care. We often hear patients say that they think nothing much can be done for broken or injured toes, but that just isn’t the case! You can request an appointment online, or give us a call today at (480) 963-9000.