How long to ice jammed digit?

I’d rather not say how, but I really jammed the hell outta my big toe. It is a bit bluish bruised and hurts a fair amount. I iced it for a while immediately afterwards and right now have it taped to my second toe.

I’m debating, here at work, whether or not I should take off my Chuck Taylors and ice it some more, or of I should just keep it tied/taped/bound up and let it sit. Will icing it more help it or will it just numb it?

Any other advice?


The general rule of thumb is to apply ice for 24 hours to minimize the swelling, then apply heat to promote healing. The less swelling, the less time it’ll take to heal.

If you went so far as to actually break your toe, there isn’t much that can be done beyond this. My daughter broke her toe in competitive gymnastics and all the doctor could really do is tape it to the neighboring toe, just as you’ve done.

I don’t think I’ve broken it, but other than an X-ray is there a way to differentiate between the two? I can wiggle it without too much pain, it is only walking on it that hurts like a muthe…eh, it hurts quite a bit.

I’m not a doctor and I certainly don’t want to venture into advice giving territory here.

I don’t know if there is a way to tell if you have a fracture vs a bad sprain without an x-ray. On the other hand, I’m not sure it matters.

With my daughter, the doctor just sort of shrugged as he wrote out a prescription for some pain relief medication. From a more personal experience, when I fractured a rib playing indoor soccer a number of years ago I had a similar reaction from the doctor. Sympathy, but nothing to do but ride it out until it healed. Laughingly he said “it’s not like I can put a cast on your rib or anything.”

Anyway, for some non-advice… I’d go to the doctor and have it checked out. If nothing else you can then brag to your friends how you broke your toe by… well, by whatever it was you were doing.

Your in luck. I’m a foot & ankle physician.

Ice, no heat, for the first couple of days. Stiff-soled shoe to decrease bending forces. If it’s really swollen and bruised, I suggest an x-ray to check for fracture or dislocation. If fractured and the fragments are displaced enough, either closed or open reduction is required. If dislocated, this means ligament damage and a long rehab.

Also, an NSAID such as Advil (Ibuprofen). Take 4 tabs of the over-the-counter Advil twice daily, WITH FOOD (this equals prescription Motrin 800), unless you have a history of G.I. ulcers. In that case, you’re screwed. Just take Tylenol.

Taping to the adjacent toe doesn’t work in this case. A stiff-soled shoe is the answer.

Great! Thanks Algernon and Artemius. I appreciate the advice.

Welcome Artemius to the SDMB. It’s always nice to have another medical professional here. Excellent post and advice.

I have a question for you though Doc (just like every cocktail party you go to, right?). Anyway, you mentioned to absimia that taping the toe to its neighbor won’t help in this case. Is that because it is the big toe? Or do you think my daughter’s emergency room physician taped her toe for some other reason. (It was my daughter’s, ummm, pointer toe… index toe? You know the one I mean.)

Yes. The big toe is unique for several reasons. Buddy splinting will work for toes 2-5. There are just too many dynamic forces operating on the big toe (hallux) for that to be effective. Thanks for the cudos. Appreciate it.