What is a Subungual Hematoma?

Summer is upon us, which means more people heading outdoors for recreational activities. A common problem new runners or joggers may encounter includes a subungal hematoma. Subungal hematoma, or ‘runner’s toe’ refers to a painful condition caused by an accumulation of blood (hematoma) underneath the toenail. Hematomas may develop after acute or repetitive trauma to the nail. Those commonly affected include tennis players, rock climbers and runners due to the recurring forces imposed on the nail causing compression of the nail bed. It is a common crush type injury and may also occur when dropping a heavy object on the toes or stubbing them.

Main symptoms include dark or blackened appearance of the skin beneath the nail, along with pain.  Pain results from the pressure of the collection of blood underneath the nail.  Pain may subside after a couple of days, leaving only the discoloration of the nail bed, which may take months to resolve. The condition usually resolves over time and may be treated acutely with rest, ice, and NSAIDs.  The nail may even fall off as it grows out.  To prevent further injury or reoccurrence, consider changing shoes to ones with a wider toebox.

If pain and swelling is intense or there is pus coming from the nail, seek help from a podiatrist. Treatment options for more concerning cases of subungal hematomas include trephination. A medical professional will create holes through the top of the nail in order to relieve the pressure. Call your podiatrist today if you have questions about your subungual hematoma.

Please visit our website for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with us at our Columbus, Gahanna or Dublin, OH office.