Ouch! That Hurts!

How many times have you cracked that little toe not paying attention to where you’re walking? What time of the night or early morning do you stump your toe on the nightstand, dresser or doorframe and feel like wetting your pants? Then it’s off to the refrigerator for some ice to pack that toe in until it goes numb on its way to getting frostbite before the pain stops.

Several types of damage can occur from a simple contusion to the skin and soft tissue to a tear of ligaments or capsule at the joint where the toe bends. Sometimes, much worse is the case where a fracture occurs to that baby toe that’s so small and sensitive. Yes, all your body weight being applied during your normal gait cycle (walking stride) to the next step, with that foot and leg in its full swing phase and all that pressure is directed to the bottom leg of the nightstand instead of the floor. Upon impact, you hear a snap, crackle and a pop and off you go hopping around, shouting (or thinking) any variety of words like darn it, shucks, or sometimes worse, with the injured foot in hand looking for a quick place to sit down hoping that it’s not broke.

For the simple injury the pain subsides, the toes just a little sore while you tip to your destination, most often the bathroom, being very careful how you walk. “Maybe I should have worn a house shoe and stop going barefoot all the time. I was just going to down the hall or across the room. Such a short distance to have caused all this pain!” Sometimes there’s already a small split or tear in the skin of the baby toe secondary to tinea pedis (athlete’s foot) and you go and make it worse by stumping it. Now that the skin is really damaged, bacteria and germs and get in to cause an infection. Some infections are known to travel deep into the foot presenting more serious problems like osteomyelitis, a bone infection.

What if you’re a diabetic, have poor circulation or both? What if you wack your toe and can’t feel the pain because you have neuropathies, numbness or may have lost your protective sensations to alert the body that an injury has occurred? What if you were out drinking all night and the alcohol has you pickled. You kick off your shoes and stump that precious little toes and don’t even feel the pain until the next day when the alcohol wears off. Depending on how soon you discover your injury correlates with the prognosis. Usually, the longer you wait to get treatment for a foot injury, the worse the problem is. I’ve known a 52yr old diabetic male with neuropathies and decreased sensory, to die from an ingrown nail! He couldn’t feel the pain so he thought that his toe would get better because it didn’t hurt. He eventually had three separate limb amputations. First his baby toe was removed. Followed by a below the knee (BK) amputation and later a hip disarticulation prior to his expiration from sepsis, an infection of the blood stream.

So often I think of my practice as an emergency room for the foot and ankle. Digital fractures and contusions, ankle sprains, ulcers and wounds, infections and ingrown nails just to name a few. Protect your feet from injury. You know that it’s inevitable that there’s a kick, bump, step on, dropped something on or twist on the way to your foot soon.

Try wearing strong durable AnywearsEverywears or Beachwears clogs at all times.

At home the perfect house shoe to help prevent a “piss” fracture (a broken baby toe on the way to urinate).

At the pool, beach or gym just remove the soft insole and they protect the feet in water, sand and showers. Just wash or rinse and dry them with a towel, put in the linings and away you go. Clogs are the shoes of choice at the airport for easy removal for that body search we are now all subject to. Even driving is more relaxing when you can back your feet out and wiggle your toes form time to time.

You will love your new clogs that are available in a variety of colors and styles. Try not going barefoot and show that nail or piece of glass that you are serious in preventing damage to your toes and sweet feet.