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I jammed my toe and now the base of the toenail is puffy and sore. Is this a big deal?



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Jamming a toe is a very common injury and although it is often nothing to worry about, there are several things you should know. 

People refer to striking the front of your toe against a hard object as "jamming" or "stubbing" your toe. It can be difficult to move your toe after a bump like this. The reason is ususally that the toe gets enflamed as an immune system response against the injury. This effect of inflammation is referred to as "functio laesa" which just means loss of function.  If your toe is inflamed, try taking a NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like Ibuprofen to help with the pain and take down the swelling.  Also, remember to RICE: rest, ice, compress and elevate, and try soaking the toe in warm water with Epsom salts. When you jam your toe, there are several other things that happen:

Common Injuries

Bruising to the toenail:  A hematoma, or bruising to the nail, can cause pressure and pain.  If the pressure is bothering you, we recommend you come in to have it drained by puncturing the nail.  As the blood and fluids drain out, the pressure will be alleviated and the pain will often resolve in a day (full healing may take up to two weeks).   If the pain is minimal, however, treatment is not necessary. The toenail will be stained, and it may take several months for the bruise to grow out (Nails just grow that slowly!) For most individuals, the nail becomes pain free in a short period of time and becomes less problematic. 

Puffy base of toenail:  The reason for this swelling is damage to the base of thChrome toe nails!e toenail, by jamming it into the nail bed.  Usually no treatment (except protection from further injury) is necessary.  Sometimes the nail will fall off over the next couple of weeks.  However, if the pain and swelling are severe, come in to get your toe drained to alleviate the pressure and allow healing with minimal pain.  Patience is the key to this injury. If your toenail falls off, try wearing Crocs, diabetic shoes, or shoes with a protective toe box to prevent further painful injury.

Fractured toe:  Sometimes when you hit your toe really hard, it’s not just jammed, it’s broken.  If you think you may have a broken toe, the best option is to have a doctor look at it and test it with a tuning fork and/or X-ray to check for fractures. 


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Brandt R Gibson, DPM
Podiatrist, Neuropathy Doctor, Father of 11 and Founder of Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute

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