When to Be Concerned About a Stubbed Toe

by | Apr 30, 2023

Nearly everyone has experienced a stubbed toe at some point. Those who spend a lot of time barefoot are especially likely to jam one of their toes eventually. The overwhelming majority of people will recover from a stubbed toe quickly, without medical care. However, certain symptoms you may experience after stubbing your toe indicate you should see a podiatrist. Here’s everything to know about a stubbed toe, including when you need to seek medical treatment.

stubbed toe

Stubbed Toe: Common Symptoms

When you stub your toe, most people experience common symptoms including:

  • Throbbing pain in the affected toe
  • Bruising of the toe
  • Swelling of the toe
  • Nailbed bleeding
  • Difficulty or discomfort walking
  • Difficulty or discomfort putting on shoes

For most people, these symptoms will begin to go away within a few hours without treatment. However, it’s never a bad idea to ice the swollen toe and stay off your feet.  If swelling is significant you may wrap your foot with an elastic bandage, or elevate your foot.  If you’re experiencing pain, an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen can help.

Signs That a Stubbed Toe May Be Broken

Unfortunately, there are times when hitting or jamming your toe results in a more serious injury, such as a broken toe. Broken toes are common sports injuries, and occur frequently when something heavy is dropped on a toe. Signs and symptoms that you’ve broken your toe include:

  • Worsening pain as time passes
  • Pain is more intense when you try to move your toe
  • Pain lasts for longer than two days
  • The toe is bent
  • The toe is deformed
  • Numbness or tingling in the toe joint
  • Excessive bruising and swelling (a purple or blue toe that is swollen)
  • You cannot move your toe or put any weight on it

example of a stubbed toe

If you experience any of these symptoms after stubbing your toe, it’s best to see a Board-Certified Podiatrist for diagnosis and treatment. 

Treatment for a Broken Toe

There is a pervasive myth that there is nothing you can do to treat a broken toe. This is untrue. Failing to treat a broken toe can result in problems including:

  • Arthritis
  • Limited motion 
  • Permanent deformity
  • Worsening fractures such as a compound fracture
  • Difficulty wearing shoes 
  • Dysfunction in the toe and foot
  • Chronic pain

stubbed toe

To prevent lasting pain and damage, you should see a podiatrist as soon as possible after a suspected toe fracture.

Your podiatrist will evaluate the severity of the fracture, and the specific bone affected in the toe, to design a treatment plan. In many cases, the toe will be taped to an adjacent toe. In other cases, you may require casting (walking boot). In the most serious cases, typically affecting the big toe, surgery may be necessary to ensure that your toe heals properly.

Book an Appointment for a Toe Injury in Eugene

If you haven’t recovered from a stubbed toe in a couple of days, it’s time to book an appointment with a podiatrist. Likewise, if your toes have sustained any trauma from a falling or dropped object, it is best to be evaluated by a foot specialist. At Eugene Foot & Ankle our Podiatric Physicians and Surgeons will quickly and accurately diagnose your injury, and custom design a treatment plan to promote a safe, healthy recovery. Call 541-683-3351 or send us a message to book your appointment. 

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