Are Stubbed Toes a Big Deal?

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Walking around your house barefoot at night can almost inevitably lead to a painful collision between your toe and a piece of furniture. For a brief second, you realize what’s about to happen; then the sharp pain shoots up your toe. Stubbed toes hurt!

Why does it hurt so bad?

Toes don’t have much fatty tissue to absorb a blow, plus they’re packed with nerve endings that send feedback to your central nervous system. This combination makes stubbed toes very painful even if they’re not often serious. However, there are some cases that your toe could have suffered a serious injury.

Is your stubbed toe broken?

Was there an unusual sound accompanying your toe stubbing (aside from your scream)? It could be broken – here are common symptoms of a fracture:

  • Pain persisting or returning when pressure is applied to the toe

  • Bleeding under the toenail

  • Discoloration or swelling that persists for a few days

  • Abnormal toe appearance

If you exhibit these symptoms, get your toe checked out by a foot specialist. A stubbed toe could also result in dislocation, tendon injury, contusion, or a ligament sprain

What else can a stubbed toe cause?

  • Infection – if the skin around the injury is broken, an infection could set in, especially if you had an ingrown nail. If you have diabetes, an open sore could lead to a bone infection or a foot ulcer.

  • Osteoarthritis – this “wear and tear” disease can appear months or years after an acute injury. Osteoarthritis in the big toe is caused by stubbing or dropping a heavy object on it.

  • Osteomyelitis – in children who stub their toes, this bone inflammation could develop if a fracture is not treated correctly. If your child complains of pain or exhibits any of the above-listed broken bone symptoms, take them to a foot doctor quickly.

How are stubbed toes treated?


Typically, the pain from a stubbed toe subsides within a day or so. However, if pain persists, pick up the phone and call us! Our podiatrist, Dr. David R. Sullivan, will examine your foot for fracture signs. He might take x-rays to determine if any bones are broken. If there is a break, he might tape or split it and suggest a boot or special shoe to keep it stabilized. Depending on the severity and location, surgery could also be an option.

Did you recently have a painful run-in with a piece of furniture? We’re here for you! Here at Westfield Foot and Ankle, LLC, our podiatrist, Dr. David R. Sullivan, has years of experience treating all foot and ankle issues. Our conveniently located Westfield, IN office, serves both Boone and Hamilton County. Call us at 317-896-6655.