Stubbed Toe – What to Look For And Treatment

Have you ever suddenly smashed your toe on a table, chair, or bed? Hitting your toe that hard is called stubbing your toe, and it can be excruciating. At that moment, you stubbed your toe, the thought of did I break it, sprain it, bruise it or smash it.

Most of the time, the pain will go away. But here are some signs of what to look for if you have done more damage than you thought. Plus, how to relieve the pain.


When you stub your toe, a surge of pain goes through you and then goes away (most of the time.) However, it is possible to get a stubbed toe and a broken toe confused. Here are some signs.

  • Purple Toe – Subungual hematoma is when blood pools under the toenail. It will have a blueish, purple tint to it. The blueish, purple colour should typically go away in a couple of days. If this doesn’t happen, you may have a broken toe.
  • Pinky Toes – Pinky toes can be the worst. They are smaller and stick out more than any other toe. If you smash your pinky toe, take care of it like any other toe.
  • Nail Damage – If you stub your toe hard enough, you may even crack your toenail. If your nail ends up breaking, look to see if it broke any skin in the nail plate. Keep an eye on this for a few days because you don’t want an infection to set in.
  • Is It Broken or Subbed – If you notice your toe is stiff or deformed, the toe may be broken. Also, if your toe is a different colour and the pain doesn’t go away in a couple of days, it may be broken.
  • Swell and Walking difficulties – If you are having trouble walking (putting weight on your foot) or swelling in the toe that won’t go away, you should see a foot specialist or doctor.


Many of us walk around our homes without something on our feet. You work all day in shoes. Why do you want to put shoes on again when you get home? Wearing something on your feet, whether shoes or slippers, will help prevent stubbed or even broken toes.

When you stub your toe, the prime procedure you should use is RICE

  • Rest – If the pain from your toe wont subsides, then rest your foot. Try to keep it rested for at least 48 hours.
  • Ice – helps reduce swelling and pain.
  • Compression – A gauze or a medical bandage can help reduce the throbbing pain and swelling.
  • Elevation – Prop your foot up on some pillows or blankets to get your foot raised. This can help with the swelling.

If the pain is throbbing, you can take non-prescription medication like Ibuprofen. If the nail breaks when you stub your toe, you can soak your foot in an Epsom salt bath.

If nothing works and you are still in pain after a week, you should see your doctor. They may send you for an x-ray or tap your toes for them to heal faster.

When you stub your toe, remember the RICE method.

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