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Stubbed Toe Complications

  • Dr. Bruce Zappan
  • August 19, 2017

Stubbing your toe can be a real pain, especially if the injury is more serious than it first appears. A stubbed toe hurts intensely at the moment of injury because of the lack of any fat deposits in the front of your toe that could help absorb the impact. You also have a lot of nerve endings in your toes that send pain signals to the brain, even if an injury is minor. Once the initial shock of stubbing your toe wears off you should inspect your toe for any of the following symptoms that may indicate a more serious condition such as a fracture. These symptoms include:

  • A cracking sound when you stubbed your toe may be a sign that you have broken your toe.
  • Persistent pain in the toe especially when pressure is applied.
  • Bleeding under and around the toenail.
  • Unusual coloration and swelling that persists for several days.

Complications from stubbing your toe may include:

  • Infection—People with diabetes should be very careful with any toe injuries to make sure an unnoticed infection doesn’t occur. If the injured toe had another abnormality such as an ingrown nail, an infection is more likely to happen.
  • Arthritic reaction—Stubbing or otherwise injuring your big toe can trigger an arthritic reaction or exacerbate symptoms of osteoarthritis.
  • Osteomyelitis—This is a condition that can strike children who stub their toe. If there is even a minor fracture, an inflammation of the bone can occur causing further damage. It’s important to see a foot doctor right away for any child with symptoms of a broken toe since delayed treatment can lead to this condition.

Depending on the severity of the injury, a broken toe may be treated by taping or splinting and a rigid boot may recommended to help prevent further injury. For complicated fractures, surgery may be required to reset the bone and remove any fragments that may be in the joint.

For any problems you may be experiencing with your feet and ankles it is important to see a foot specialist to receive the correct care. Bruce B. Zappan, D.P.M., P.C., of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates in Philadelphia, is an expert in proper evaluation and recommendations for treatment. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or make an appointment with our office at 215-563-2560.