Ouch! Did you just step on something?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image469180After all this snow in Kansas City recently, we can hardly wait for spring to get here and put pep back in our step!  Spring and summer brings sandals or flip flops, and barefoot walking.  When wearing these types of shoes, you can be at risk and step on something, called a “foreign body”, having it enter your skin.  It is not uncommon to get a foreign object stuck in your foot.  These foreign bodies can include nails, splinters, glass, thorns, needles, toothpicks and anything else you can think of.  It can be extremely painful, especially if located on a pressure area of your foot.  Although some people don’t even realize they have stepped on an object until after the fact. This tends to occur in people with diabetes and decreased sensation (or numbness), known as neuropathy.

What should you do when you step on a foreign body?  Sometimes they barely enter the skin and other times they end up lodged in the foot.  Diagnosing a foreign object frequently sees pain at the area of entrance, often associated with small opening or a darkened spot.  Sometimes there can be redness associated with the area.  X-rays may be necessary to help identify the location and depth of the object.   Sometimes a foreign body cannot be seen on an X-ray, and then an ultrasound or MRI may be necessary.

Treatment can vary depending on the depth of the foreign body.  Often they are superficial or just below the skin, and can be removed easily after numbing the area.  Attempting to remove the foreign body on your own is not recommended, as they can be difficult to get out, it can break and sometimes push the foreign body deeper. Unfortunately, when foreign bodies are deep, and sometimes angled, it can require surgery for removal and often the wound needs to be aggressively cleaned out in order to help your foot to heal.  If foreign objects are left untreated, they can become infected or cause constant pain.  And don’t forget, depending on the type foreign body and the last time you had your tetanus shot, you may need a booster to prevent the chance of developing tetanus.

The fear of a shot got you scared? You can prevent foreign bodies by wearing closed toed shoes, even around the house.  If you can’t wear closed toed shoes, at least have a pair of slippers or crocs to wear around the home. Remember not to walk where there could have been glass broken in the past.  If you are barefoot, make sure you avoid that wooden deck outside or that beach with lots of broken shells and jellyfish.

So this spring and summer, if you should end up with something in your foot, such as a piece of glass or splinter give Kansas City Foot & Ankle a call.  Our podiatrists, Dr. Mark Green or Dr. Stephanie Jameson are experts in foot and ankle care, and can help diagnose and remove that foreign body in no time!