It’s no mystery when you have a stubbed toe. It usually results from a sudden hit or jam into furniture or another foreign object. Tripping over something or getting your toe stuck can also cause this painful nuisance.
The sudden pain from a stubbed toe can be both alarming and momentarily debilitating. While most stubbed toes come and go, it’s important to look for signs of a more serious injury and how you can relieve it.
Stubbed Toe: What to Look Out For
Since stubbed toes are so common, most people assume that they don’t cause complications or can’t be serious. However, stubbed toes can range in severity. It’s even possible to confuse a broken toe for a stubbed toe.
Here are some signs to pay attention to:
- If your stubbed toe is turning purple: Internal bleeding under a stubbed toenail can cause bruising and blood pooling, or a subungual hematoma. Typically, a purple or blueish tint in a stubbed toe will go away. But if it doesn’t go away within a few days or the colouring spreads, you may have a broken toe.
- If you’ve stubbed your pinky toe: Your pinky toe is more vulnerable than its counterparts since its placement and small size leave it more susceptible to injury. Despite this, you should follow the same steps to healing your pinky toe as any other toes.
- Stubbed toe and nail damage: Sometimes, stubbing your toe can lead to a cracked toenail. The sudden impact to the toenail may also be enough to break deep into the nail plate and cause bleeding. It may be painful and difficult to walk for a while as the broken portion of the nail regrows. It’s important to pay close attention to an open, externally bleeding toenail as it is vulnerable to infection.
- Stubbed toe vs. broken toe: If you notice discolouration and pain that does not subside, deformity, and stiffness, you may have broken your toe.
- Swelling and difficulty walking: See a doctor or foot specialist if you notice swelling and an inability to put weight on your foot.
How to Relieve a Stubbed Toe: Stubbed Toe Treatment
To prevent stubbed toes as much as possible, wear orthopedic slippers or other footwear indoors. Going barefoot at home is second nature for many of us, but protective footwear can prevent many minor injuries.
The RICE method is one of the most effective ways to handle sudden minor injuries.
- Rest: If the pain from your stubbed toe is lingering, stop physical activity and rest your foot. Many healthcare professionals suggest staying off your toe for at least 48 hours.
- Ice: Applying ice to the toe can reduce pain and swelling.
- Compression: Light compression also reduces pain and swelling. Try using a medical bandage or gauze.
- Elevation: Raising your foot can reduce swelling, pain and throbbing. You can easily elevate your foot by stacking a few pillows on top of each other and placing your foot on top of them while laying down.
You can try nonprescription medication, like Ibuprofen to help relieve throbbing pain. Additionally, if you have a cracked toenail, you can try soaking it in an Epsom salt foot bath.
If you’re concerned about the severity of your stubbed toe, you can schedule an appointment with a chiropodist. They may be able to tape your toe, so it heals faster. Furthermore, they can determine if your toe is broken during a thorough foot assessment. If your chiropodist suspects a toe fracture, they may suggest x-rays.
How Long Does a Stubbed Toe Take to Heal?
- In many cases, your toe will be momentarily painful but quickly feel better.
- If the impact pain is excruciating, use the RICE method. See a foot specialist or your doctor if the pain doesn’t subside within several hours.
- If you have a toe fracture, the average recovery time is 4-6 weeks.