Let's talk about foot, toe and ankle injuries

Whether your injury is simple or complex, the right care makes all the difference.

September 30, 2020


Foot and ankle injuries make up many sports-related injuries and are a leading reason for emergency room and urgent care visits. Many of these injuries aren't serious and can be easily taken care of with conservative treatment.

However, some foot and ankle injuries are serious and not easy to diagnose. If your injury isn't cared for correctly, you could have long-term pain or need to change how you move and go about your daily life.

Common toe injuries

A contusion is a bruise injury. A sprain is a tear or injury to the tissue that keeps two bones together.

Common injuries to the toes include:

  • Stubbing toe on a doorframe or object
  • Sprain from getting caught on turf or carpet
  • Crushing
  • Piercing
  • A deep cut

Contusions and sprains are the most common types of injuries. Usually these kinds of injuries can be cared for by:

  • Rest
  • Using a rigid sandal or a shoe that doesn’t move
  • Buddy-taping, or taping two toes together to help them heal

You may need more care than what is listed above if there is:

  • An abnormal shape
  • A loss of normal movement
  • A bone break that affects the joint, especially at the big toe

It's a good idea to see a doctor if you think your foot and ankle injury is serious or if you think you may need surgery.

Usually a crush injury will take longer to heal and is more likely to be associated with:

  • Nail trauma
  • Nerve injury
  • Potential for gangrene or infection

If you have a lot of swelling and discoloration, you should talk to a podiatrist — a doctor who specializes in feet and problems with feet.

A wound caused by a sharp item may involve only skin. In this case, repairing the cut and taking steps to stop infection may be enough. It's also a good idea to make sure the tendons are still working correctly.

If there's a chance there's a deeper injury or your primary care provider is not able to close your wound, specialty care is recommended.

When to get care

People often think nothing can be done for a broken toe. That isn't exactly true. Think about talking to a doctor if you have a toe injury.

The Polyclinic's podiatrists see adults and children for sudden and serious or long-term conditions of the foot and ankle. Call 1-206-860-4457 to schedule an appointment.


By Sarah Burns, DPM, FACFAS and Daniel Lowinger, DPM, FACFAS

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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.