Runner's Toe

Runner’s Toe

Stephen D. Lasday, DPM Foot Pain, Podiatrist Sarasota and Bradenton

Runner's ToeFor those of you who love running and do it regularly, you may already be familiar with my next subject. It’s a painful but not serious medical condition known as runner’s toe. You tennis players may know about it too; it’s also called tennis toe.

It’s medical name is subungual hematoma. It is a collection of blood underneath a toenail  (black toenail). It doesn’t look very pretty.

Runner’s toe is a common condition seen in runners caused by pressure or horizontal separation of nail plate from the nail bed. This injury leads to bleeding and pooling of blood underneath the nail plate. The toe nail ends up looking reddish-black. The nail plate may also become thicker and more brittle due to the injury (onychochauxis).

Fortunately, the nail plate will gradually grow out and be replaced by new, normal nail plate in several months time.

Runner’s toe is often associated with ill-fitting shoes and not enough space for the toes. Some susceptible runners may also have Morton’s toe. This is a condition in which the second toe extends further out than the great toe. To prevent runner’s toe, purchase properly fitted shoes.

The condition can also happen from a traumatic injury, such as slamming a toe in a door, or from sports activities, such as climbing or hiking.


Subungual hematomas are treated in a couple of ways, either releasing the pressure conservatively when tolerable or by drilling a hole through the nail into the hematoma (trephining). Another option is removing the entire nail.

Subungual hematomas usually heal without incident, though infection or disruption of the nail may occur. It’s a good idea to go ahead and get it checked out.

If you are looking for a podiatrist in the Bradenton or Sarasota area, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Lasday, Dr. Zdancewicz, or Dr. Goecker for a thorough and professional evaluation, either in their Bradenton Podiatry office or Sarasota Podiatry office.

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