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Thread: Smashed Toe - How long to expect swelling and pain

  1. #1
    snowman is offline Diamond
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    Default Smashed Toe - How long to expect swelling and pain

    So a dumbass move on my part, I ran out to the shop for a few minutes in my work shoes (no steel toe) and dropped a vise on my foot. This was about three weeks ago.

    Pain was immediate, duh. Swelling...yup. Knowing that my dad had done this a few times, I give him a call. He tells me the doctors told him to watch out for numbness and extreme discoloration, and if helps, tape to buddy toe....beyond that, he said that the doctors always told him they never actually do anything for it. (which seems to be supported by other people, and information online) I've never had any discoloration past what I would call minimal bruising, and I bruise easily.

    For the past two weeks I have felt a lot of pressure that simply squeezing the toe would relieve. When squeezed, I'd feel a nice little snap, like you would if you were cracking your knuckle.

    Today, I noticed the toe is now about twice the size of the rest of my little piggies...and even though this little guy supposedly missed out on the roast beef, I have my suspicions that he's been hitting the all you can eat buffet in the midnight hours.

    I've been taking ibuprofren as needed (usually after being on my feet for too long, there's no avoiding it) and the occasional tramadol if really bad and I need to sleep.

    Just imagine this site has a decent amount of experience with such injuries. Should I actually suck it up and go to the Dr at this point and have them tell me to continue doing what I have been even though none of my symptoms suggest any complications except the continued swelling?

    Basically...all I'm asking is that if anybody has had any complications of similar injuries that aren't described by the standard "see a doctor" symptoms of an open fracture, badly displaced fracture or technicolor metatarsals?

  2. #2
    jscpm's Avatar
    jscpm is offline Hot Rolled
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    If the toe is broken or chipped you can benefit by surgical procedures. At a minimum you should have the toe X-rayed to see if there is any bone damage.

    There is nothing you can do about cartilege damage except putting the toe in a splint so it does not move. Sometimes a doctor will give out a special boot that immobilizes the foot so the toe does not move.

    Persistent ongoing pain, even when the toe is not moved is a warning sign of serious infection and should be investigated.
    Richard King likes this.

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    Do I read you have yet to visit Doc?

    During the appenticeship I dropped a jig on my toe when the upper cross bar that I lifted it with came off. This was in about '66 - '67 at P&WA in East Hartford, CT. They immediately had me clopping around for a couple or three weeks in a wooden shoe. That was when I walked to work, too.

  4. #4
    Radar987 is offline Aluminum
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    Your dad has specifically dropped a vice on his foot, A FEW TIMES?

    Your toe is probably broken... swollen because it's badly infected. Time to see a doc.

  5. #5
    bradinNC is offline Aluminum
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    Default RICE and arnica gel

    I think you are a bit late in getting treatment but better late than never. Need to incorporate RICE, rest-ice-compression-elevation as soon as possible. Keep your foot elevated above your heart as much as you can. Put an ice pack on it several times a day(frozen peas work well, they conform to the affected area)
    Might be a bit late for compression. I also like to use a product called Anica gel. Helps keep swelling down and reduces bruising.
    I've used this treatment many times, especially on my feet and banged up knees. I was a paratrooper for 19 years and spent 14 years in special forces, I know what works for me.
    PS go see a doc and get an x ray 1st!

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    Tboh is offline Plastic
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    You sir, need to see someone before that problem worsens.

    Pain should have subsided before three weeks if it was healing normally IMHO. There should be no new 'Snap' unless your KURT has hurt the alignment of the ligaments and or bones from the normal of the area in question.

    The concerning thing you mention as I read is that there is visible swelling causing pain that is relieved by squeezing the toe. This smells of some inflammatory process affecting circulation. That could be more serious than the bump you are hoping for.

    I'd suggest, for the sake of your long term gait and ability to stand at your machines, that you get the above recommended XRY and ask for a prophylactic antibiotic good for bones and such.

    Tboh

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    In addition to what everyone else has already mentioned, if it hasn't already come off, you're probably going to lose the nail. Can take many months to grow back. Yes... get to the doc asap!
    Last edited by mm58; 01-27-2012 at 08:56 PM.

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    gravydavy is offline Cast Iron
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    How long to expect swelling and pain?


    How long do you expect to live? That will probably cover it. You might have a decade or two of respite before the reminders start popping up.

    Oopsies are the gift that keeps on giving.

    If you're gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.
    vonblowseph likes this.

  9. #9
    rons is offline Stainless
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    When you break a toe in martial arts the doctors just tape the adjacent toe to it. They
    don't operate. If you didn't do the tape and are walking around a lot then that is not so
    good. I bet if you go to a doctor he/she will say the same.

  10. #10
    gcude is offline Aluminum
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    I set a cordless drill, 15.6v, on top of a 6' step ladder, bumped the ladder and the stuuuuuupid thing fell, cartwheel style, with the backend landing dead center on my big toenail. Hurt like you know what for about 2 weeks and still painful for about a month. A red spot appeared and stayed, right in the center of toenail.

    Fast forward, really slowly, about 6 months and I'm having lots of pain on both sides of toenail and still have a red spot in the center of the toenail. Finally go to foot doctor and find out that replacement toenail is growing in under the top nail and ripping it out on the sides. Doc removed the top nail and dropped acid (hey, that's what he said) on the infection underneath ... gee that felt really good ... not. So, about another 3-4 months I had a new toenail. Now I really try to make sure I take the time to change into my steel-toe shoes when I go into the shop ... but the temptation is sure there to just run into the shop from time to time without swapping ... DON'T DO IT!!!

    Seek professional help and good luck.

  11. #11
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    I dropped a 20 LB chunk of bar on my toe. I had steel toe boots with metatarsal guards. You would the impact would be no big deal but the bar hit on the part of my little toe that was unprotected. The toe turned purple and hurt for about two weeks. I dont think it was broken. For you infection in the bone would be a concern. If your too cheap to go to an MD for an x-ray ask your dentist to x-ray it during a normal visit. I thought I had a piece of steel embedded in my finger. The dental hygienist was more than happy to x-ray it. Turned out negative and did not cost me any extra. My wife who is a physical therapist said "Of course he needs to go see a doctor, Duh!?"

  12. #12
    snowman is offline Diamond
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    damn

    For my dad, it was drywall once, then random crap at work.

    For me, it was a wilton 4 1/2" bullet vise. The middle toe actually took a majority of the weight, bruised, and is now fine. This one was a glancing blow. Toenail shoes no changes whatsoever, no bruising, no redness. Joint effected is last joint in toe, so if it needed amputation, I wouldn't be out much.

    I've got insurance, it's really no big deal...it won't cost me more than $100 out of pocket, and that's assuming surgery...it's more the issue of the time it takes, and they'd want me to take time off from work where we are short staffed, blah blah blah. Lots of excuses.

    RICE...yeah, I wish I had time to rest and elevate.

    I just wish I had x-ray film here at work. Everything is digital now, I'd have trouble explaining how I accidentally took a radiograph of my toe...and they make it too difficult to delete it from the server.

    Maybe there is still some film floating around for the dental machine, guess I'll do some deep cleaning tonight.

    Guess I'll see if I can get in to the doctor in the next couple weeks.

  13. #13
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    Default Late Swelling

    What is odd about your story is the fact that your toe swelled dramatically overnight 3 weeks after your initial injury. This takes your injury out of the routine category and raises some questions about what is going on.

    It does seem late for infection to set in and infection seems unlikely if the skin was not broken---no bleeding around the nail after the injury and no cut or deep abrasion anywhere on the toe. That said, this story is not routine. If there is a pool of blood inside the toe (hematoma) from the initial injury, that could serve as a good culture medium for bacteria. Additionally, crushed tissue is not as robust at resisting infection as normal tissue. Even without a break in the skin bacteria could find your toe via your blood stream as we all have a few bacteria in our blood but their numbers are small and usually easily overcome by our normal defenses. And while you are right that most of the time just icing, buddy tape, and a sturdy shoe are standard treatments, this case is not standard.

    So, I would also suggest you heed the advice of the several people who have suggested you get yourself to an urgent care facility or your doctor's office if they have Saturday hours and check it out. I have known of cases where infections have gotten out of hand and now those people in question have a toe or a finger that is a lot shorter than all their others........

    There is a good chance it will be nothing, but I'm not so sure about that. When in doubt, check it out is a pretty good axiom. I think it would be better if you not wait "a couple of weeks" to do so.

    Denis
    Last edited by dgfoster; 01-28-2012 at 08:05 AM.

  14. #14
    elfrench is offline Plastic
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    I'd say you're only a couple of weeks away from winning the Darwin award

  15. #15
    bradinNC is offline Aluminum
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    Your affected toe may be veering toward going septic. Don't be stubborn, get to the doc today! If it goes septic and you do nothing, well, you will regret it.

  16. #16
    TDegenhart is online now Stainless
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    Not to scare you (oh, yes I am) but my son lost a toe due to infection just like you describe. A year and half later the docs had to amputate his leg to get rid of the infection. GET TO THE DOCTOR OR YOUR WIFE IS GOING TO HAVE TWO BABIES TO TAKE CARE OF!

    Tom

  17. #17
    gvasale is offline Hot Rolled
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    as others have said, do it now. today. A few years back I dropped a couple of flame cut rings on my right foot. Had on steel toe shoes, but was struck above the toe. Broke one of the long bones in the foot, and the injury didn't show well on the xray. Worked on for two more weeks, and had difficulty walking. Went to the ER, and was told to soak foor & given antibiotics for cellulitis, told to see primary care doctor, who gave me more antibiotics. Later, still having problems, went to an orthopedic surgeon who sort of read me the riot act. Xray now showed displacement of the bone and infection in the bone. 5 weeks of home administered IV antibiotics before surgery to pin the break back together. 4 months out of work. Don't take chances. BTW, BIL's wife, with foot prolbems, had 1/2 of her foot amputated a couple of weeks ago. Not as the result of a recent sudden injury, but no matter. Apparently somehow infection started and developed gangreen. Lucky it was caught, but not lucky enough.

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    In my experience, bone bruises make themselves noticed for about 6 months and quite painfully for a month or more.

    Most of the time in such instances, (in the absence of additional signs, such as infection or fracture, much different than the common swelling of bruised tissue), a doctor is paid and takes the credit for ones body healing it'self. The medical proffesions propaganda is thoroughly instilled in the human conciousness for good reason, it provides a significant fraction of their income and wealth.

    And as far as the opinion of elfrench is concerned with his, "I'd say you're only a couple of weeks away from winning the Darwin award", the majority of beings on this earth are humans, the exception is in you gods who are having difficulty grasping our humanity and one of the words that apply only to we lesser beings: ACCIDENTAL. Get off your high horse or ride it to your doctor's and give him some more of your money.

    In any case, please try to control your demeaning words to one suffering from injury, so that your cute suggestion that this total stranger is on mental par with a simian doesn't leave such a poor impression on cognisant observers.

    The above simply to offer an able competitor in the superiority contest elfrench started.

    Bob

  19. #19
    Dualkit is online now Diamond
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    Max out on the ibuprofen, doctor told me I could take 800mg every 4 hours. Recovery time will also vary with your age. I have a separated shoulder, I did the same thing at 30 and it was fine in two weeks, same impact at 50 and it still only has half range of motion and pain and I am past six weeks.

  20. #20
    jim rozen is online now Diamond
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    Went to my podiatrist once. Asked him about a maching question. He said, why are
    you asking ME about that.

    YMMV

    And yes, I dropped a bicycle wheel out of a truing stand one time, onto my bare
    big toe. And yes, it finally did need a small bit of surgery to make it right.
    dgfoster, Tom L. and mm58 like this.

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