Bruised toes can feel as painful as fractured toes, with comparable swelling and "black and blue" discolorations. However, they usually appear straight, and the injury which caused the bruise is minor.
However, if the swelling is extreme, or intense pain persists for an hour, or the toe is pale or blue and cool to the touch, then this is a medical emergency and you should immediately go the the emergency room for care. Diabetics, and those with poor circulation, should treat even minor toe and foot injuries with extreme care, and should be seen by a doctor immediately after all injuries.
If you are not sure of the extent of your injury, see a doctor immediately!
If these signs and diseases are not present, then you can try treating the injury by reading the following:
Self treatment should begin immediately after the injury, with a careful examination of the toe:
- The toe is straight and does not appear to be going in an unusual direction. If it is not straight, then click on dislocations for further information.
- Gently run your finger along the sides, top, and bottom of the toe to feel for unusual "bumps or lumps" which are not present on uninjured toes. The presence of an unusual bump may mean that the toe is fractured; for information click on fractures.
- The toe nail is attached and there is no blood under the nail. If the nail is loose, or you can see a bluish or red discoloration under the portion of the nail, then this must be treated first, and you should click on toe nail injuries.
Cuts, lacerations, or breaks in the skin can lead to severe infection, especially in an injured toe, where there is swelling, which may decrease the circulation to the toe. With decreased circulation, infection can quickly set in. If there is even a minor break in the skin, then click on lacerated toes.
If none of the above signs are present, then you may have a bruised toe, and you can treat the toe with the following suggestions. However, if you are not sure of the extent of the injury, then go to the emergency room immediately.
- The sooner you begin to treat your toe by using "R.I.C.E.", the better you will feel:
Rest is very important. Take off your shoe, get off your feet, and relax.
Ice should be applied as soon as possible. Never apply ice directly on the toes, as the small blood vessels in the toes can easily go into spasm when subjected to extreme cold. This can stop blood from getting to the toe, and is dangerous. Ice should be applied to the top of the foot, or front of the ankle, so that as the blood flows under the ice, it will be cooled. This cool blood flowing into the toe will help to reduce the swelling and pain. Apply the ice, wrapped in a cloth or over an elastic bandage, to the foot for 30 minutes, every 2 hours, for the first 3 days after an injury. If the ice is uncomfortable or causes increased pain, do not continue to use it, and see a doctor.
Compression is used to limit swelling, and to give support to the injured area. Compression should be applied to the entire foot. If it is applied just to the toe, increased swelling will occur behind the toe, or in the forefoot. Compression should be applied with a 3 inch elastic bandage, begining around all the toes, and then going around the foot and ankle. Before you begin wrapping place a small amount of cotton between the injured toe and the next largest toe. Gently tape the two toes together, with the cotton between them. This will reduce motion in the toe, which will decrease the pain, and allows for quicker healing. The bandage should not be so tight that it causes increased pain or throbbing in the toes or foot. It should be comfortable! Do not remove the elastic bandage for the first 12 hours, unless it becomes to tight, or the pain increases, or the toes become pale or blue and cool. If any of these things happen, immediately remove all bandages, and leave them off for several hours. The normal color and temperature of the toes should return immediately. If not, see a doctor immediately! Continue until the swelling and pain subsides; it could take several days.
Elevation of the leg will aid in reducing swelling and pain. Blood rushes to an injured area to bring increased blood cells which aid in healing. Gravity will also force blood to the injured area. Too many cells and too much fluid will apply pressure to the injured nerves and tissues, and cause increased pain, and delayed healing. Keep your foot elevated so that it is at least parallel to the ground, or higher if it is comfortable. Do this for at least 48 hours, or until the throbbing subsides, when you lower the leg.
- Healing will occur more quickly if there is no pressure on the injured toe. Our Injury Shoe is designed to keep all pressure off of the toes and forefoot area, and allows you to walk without bending the painful toe. This shoe will decrease healing time and pain. In 30 years of private practice, I have found that this shoe will reduce healing time by half, and allow you to be more comfortable while healing is occurring. We will ship this shoe to you by Priority Mail, at no additional charge.
- Do the above for at least 3 days. If there is no improvement, see a podiatrist immediately. If you see gradual improvement, continue the above course of treatment until the pain and swelling are gone. It can take bone bruises 2 to 3 weeks to heal, so be patient!