I don't know about you, but for me, there's nothing as excruciatingly painful as a jammed toe. Seriously, how can such a small body part result in so much pain? It gets even worse when you don't know how to unjam a toe. The pain lingers, torturing you for days, and you can't help but wonder if it's karma's doing.
Well, karma or not, you need to know how to unjam a toe because if left unattended, things could get worse. You don't want to lose your toe, do you? Okay just pulling your leg there -- no pun intended. But the effects of an untreated jammed toe can be quite severe. So it's crucial to know how to unjam a toe.
Is It Jammed or Broken: How to Tell
Before you reach out for your first aid kit, it's crucial to determine whether your toe is sprained, dislocated, or broken. You see, while we can all agree that jamming a toe against a piece of furniture is extremely painful, the experience is different for everyone.
The lucky few experience the pain for only a few minutes, and it disappears. Others have to deal with the pain for days, and it gets even worse if it's broken. This difference is mainly due to the differences in the intensity of impact.
If you jam your toe too hard, it's more likely for it to break compared to a slight jam. So how can you tell if it's sprained or broken? The trick is to observe the symptoms.
If you have a sprained toe, you'll feel pain, but your toe will be functional. You'll be able to walk, move it, and put your body weight on it. This injury affects the ligaments around the toe, which causes the pain, throbbing, and tenderness you feel.
On the other hand, if you've broken your toe, it means you've fractured a bone. When this happens, you'll either have a limited range of motion or be unable to move your toe completely.
There will also be swelling and bruising, and the pain will continue for days without getting better. In addition to this, you may also feel a burning sensation around the toe.
How to Unjam a Toe
Now for the fun part (or is it?); how to unjam a toe. It's advisable to treat your toe as soon as you jam it. Failure to do so may cause the pain to get even worse. So let's find out how to unjam a toe at home and when to see your doctor.
One of the most effective methods of treating a jammed toe is the R.I.C.E method.
Apart from the R.I.C.E method, buddy taping may also help. This method involves taping your injured toe to the one next to it using athletic tape. By doing so, your injured toe gets support and stability which enhance the healing of the ligaments.
Over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, and aspirin may also help.
When to see a doctor and treatment options
If you try any of the home remedies mentioned above but nothing seems to work, it's time to see a doctor. Call or visit your doctor when you notice exposed bones, dislocation, unusually pale skin, intensifying pain, if your toe is cold to the touch, and if there is numbness.
Depending on the severity of the injury, your doctor may recommend a few treatment options.
The first thing the physician will do is to perform an x-ray of the injured toe to determine whether or not it's broken and if there's any other issue.
After the x-ray, your doctor may either immobilize your toe by buddy taping or recommend a medical boot to protect your toe from further trauma. And if your toe bone is not in the correct angle, the doctor will numb the area and straighten it immediately. Afterward, you may need a medical boot to walk.
In more severe cases, you may have to undergo surgery. The surgeon will use pins and plates to position your bones correctly for proper healing. You may also need some antibiotics to prevent infection.
The healing time depends on the severity of the injury. If you've sprained your toe, try home remedies like icing the area for about 20 minutes, giving the foot some rest, compressing, and keeping it in an elevated position. Do this every day until the pain subsides.
Healing should take three to six weeks. If it's not, it may be best to see your doctor because the issue may be more severe than you think.
If you've broken your toe, you'll need medical attention to fix it. The healing time will depend on the treatment administered.
If you jam your toe too hard to the point that it breaks, it's possible to experience certain complications. These complications may occur immediately after your injury or weeks later.
For this reason, it's crucial to have your toe checked as soon as you notice the symptoms of a broken toe. Failure to do so may lead to chronic pain or even deformities -- you definitely don't want that.
Some of the possible complications include:
A compound fracture is where the bone in a toe fracture sticks out through your skin. It rarely happens, but if you notice it, it's best to see your doctor immediately. You may require surgery to get the toe back to normal.
Another possible complication is a nail injury. Blood may accumulate underneath your toenail (a condition known as subungual hematoma.) If it's large enough, all the doctor needs to do is to drain it by making a small hole on the subungual hematoma.
However, it's too large, and there's a lot of pain, the doctor may have to remove the entire toenail.
The injury may also result in a broken toenail. In such a case, the doctor will trim or remove the nail depending on how bad it is
It's also possible to be left with arthritis pain after your toe fracture heals. In addition to this, you may experience stiffness, or even deformity depending on how bad the injury was. There's no cure, but there are ways to mitigate the pain.
In some cases, the fracture doesn't heal completely (nonunion), and in other cases, it doesn't heal properly (malunion). Sometimes surgery is necessary to fix these two problems. However, this happens in rare cases.
As you can see, jamming your toe can get serious very fast. That is why you not only need to know how to unjam a toe but also when to see your doctor. Immediate treatment can make all the difference, so don't risk it.
Ways of Preventing a Jammed Toe
Now that you know how to unjam a toe and when to see your doctor, it's also essential to understand how to prevent it from happening in the first place. We can all agree that prevention is better than cure.
So how can you prevent a jammed toe and hopefully never have to use these tips on how to unjam a toe? Let's find out.
The first thing you need to do is to avoid walking barefoot. Walking without shoes puts you at a higher risk of jamming your toe because they are out in the open. However, if you have shoes on, it's less likely to happen, and if it does, the impact won't be as significant because the shoes will shield you.
It may also help to be aware of stub-worthy objects like furniture and uneven sidewalks when walking. You may have to put your phone away when walking for this one.
Lastly, wear closed or protective shoes when you're in an environment that includes a risk of foot trauma.
Watch Your Step
There you have it; a simple guide on how to unjam a toe. Next time you walk into that bed edge or uneven sidewalk, you'll know how to handle the situation to avoid jammed toe complications. And if the at-home remedies don't do any good, don't waste any time, see your doctor!
And we know it easy to forget, especially when you're in a hurry, but remember to look where you're going to avoid this type of injury.
Have you ever jammed your toe? How did you unjam it? Are there other tips you believe would be helpful that we left out? Please share your thoughts and views in the comment section below.
Featured photo via Pixabay