Why Do Stubbed Toes Hurt So Much?


Ouch! Who put that coffee table there!? Everybody has experienced a stubbed toe in their life. Usually, you get over it pretty quickly (after some shouting and grumbling and rubbing the hurt toe). Sometimes though, a stubbed toe can lead to much larger issues. In these cases, Westfield Foot and Ankle, LLC is here to assist!

Why does it hurt so much?

There are two main reasons that work together to create a painful reaction when you stub your toe:

  • No fat deposits. There’s nothing in the front of your toe to absorb the impact of that door or table leg. It hits the bone straight on.
  • Lots of nerve endings. It also hits the bundle of nerve endings at the end of your big toe. These nerves send pain signals to your brain, even when it’s just a minor or momentary injury.

How do I know if it’s serious?

Once you get over the initial shock of the impact, you should check your toe out for any of these symptoms. These symptoms could indicate a more serious condition:

  • An audible crack when you bend your toe joint
  • Pain does not subside after a few minutes
  • Blood around or underneath the toenail
  • Bruising or discoloration
  • Swelling that does not subside

How will my stubbed toe be treated if it’s a serious injury?

Your podiatrist has many tools to treat injuries like a stubbed toe. Your options will likely be:

  • Practice RICE (Resting, Icing, Compression, and Elevation) – this will help relieve pain and swelling in the area.
  • Over-the-counter or prescription medication – this will also help bring the pain and swelling down.
  • Taping or splinting the bone, or a specialized boot – this will help ensure the bone does not move around excessively or become re-injured.
  • Surgery to remove bone fragments – this is only recommended in very rare, severe cases.

Stubbed toe complications may include fracture, osteoarthritic reactions, osteomyelitis in children, infections, especially for our diabetic patients or other people with diminished circulation in their feet.

If you’re suffering from any of these things, or if your toe will just not stop hurting after you stubbed it, it’s time to make an appointment. Here at Westfield Foot and Ankle, LLC, our friendly, knowledgeable podiatrist, Dr. David R. Sullivan, is always available to answer any questions. To schedule an appointment, request one online or call us at (317) 896-6655.