It’s always a little risky to be the leader, isn’t it? Your toes know this all too well. Thrusting boldly forward with each step, your toes are the proverbial tip of the spear. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, toe injuries are among the most common foot and ankle problems.
Most of us are familiar with the pain of a toe stubbed or jammed by unwanted conflict with an inconveniently placed door frame or table leg. Other possible injuries include sprains (including turf toe), bruises, fractures, dislocations, crushes, or black toenails (also called subungual hematomas, or blood pooling under the nail). Such injuries can occur as a result of running or sports, falls, auto accidents, dropping something heavy, or even wearing tight shoes.
If you do injure your toe, you’ll want to take a quick assessment so you can determine the best immediate course of action. How serious is the problem? If the toe is crushed, bleeding, or obviously broken, it’ll be pretty apparent you’ll need emergency care. More minor injuries may not require professional treatment, but it’s often better not to take the risk if you suspect something more serious than a bruise—you don’t want to make a sprain or dislocation worse by continuing to walk on it.
The first step in first aid is to stop any bleeding using direct pressure. (If a bone is sticking out, do not push it back in – just cover with a clean bandage.) Wounds will then need to be gently cleaned of any foreign debris, followed by application of a topical antibiotic and a bandage.
In most cases you’ll want to avoiding bearing weight directly on the toe, especially if there is a break, sprain, dislocation, or other problem that could get worse with added pressure. If you’re sitting or lying down, try to elevate your foot above chest level. You may also use ice packs wrapped in a towel for up to 20 minutes at a time to control pain and swelling.
As mentioned previously, while some toe injuries can be managed at home, it’s a good idea to get a professional evaluation if you suspect a more substantial injury or find it difficult to walk or move normally without pain. After practicing good first aid, please give us a call at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute and schedule an appointment with Dr. Keith McSpadden by dialing 512-593-2949. You can also request an appointment online.