Have you ever walked through your home barefoot, thinking about something else, and, suddenly – bam – you run into a piece of furniture? The next second, you’re yelling or cursing in pain because you’ve stubbed your toe.
Stubbing your toe can be very painful especially if you’ve damaged the tendon or soft tissues in your toe. So how do you know whether you’ve broken your toe or not? First, examine it.
- Did you hear a snap or pop when you stubbed it?
- Do you have a bone sticking out and is your toe bleeding?
- Does the toe look crooked? Is it pointing in the wrong direction? Or is it twisted in a weird way?
- Is the toe or the toenail bruised – a black or purple color?
- Is the pain worse when you touch or move the toe?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have broken your toe. You should see your doctor immediately.
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then your toe may not be broken. If your toe or toenail is just bleeding without a protruding bone, clean it with soap and water. Apply over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to the area and apply a sterile bandage or wrap a piece of sterile gauze around your toe.
To reduce pain and swelling, you should ice your toe several times a day for about 20 minutes. You may want to take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen.
Over the next few days, periodically examine your toe. If you don’t have a fracture, the pain and swelling should subside within a few days. However, if the pain and swelling doesn’t get better; your toe turns black-and-blue; and/or you experience pain when you put weight on your toe, you should see your doctor. Your doctor will examine your toe and may require an X-ray to determine whether it’s broken.
Treatment for a broken toe may include:
- Applying ice to the toe, elevating your foot and resting it.
- Taping your toe to the uninjured toe next to it.
- Resetting the bone in your toe into its proper position, if the bone is displaced or rotated.
- Splinting your toe.
- Wearing a special shoe to protect your foot.
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