Do I Need to Worry About a Runner's Toenail?

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Do I Need to Worry About a Runner's Toenail?I see a lot of runners in my practice. People training for half-marathons, and full marathons, ultramarathons, and Ironman triathlons.

One thing I've learned is that feet get beaten up!

One area that gets particularly injured is the toenail, usually the great toenail. It's almost seen as a badge of honor that you finish a race and you find out how many toenails you lost over the course of the race or shortly after.

Why does it happen?

It happens because, over the course of the race, the foot hits the end of the shoe over and over again, which ends up traumatizing the nail and blood forms beneath the nail. This lifts the nail and a new nail will start to come in behind it. Eventually, the top nail will just fall off.

This process is usually not painful, but sometimes it is. In the cases when there is pain, there is a very simple procedure that we do in the office to be able to pierce holes in the nail itself to allow the blood to drain through. This does two things:

  1. This eliminates the pain because the pressure will be relieved.
  2. It may save the toenail by bringing the nail back down against the nail bed. It may allow the nail bed to adhere to the nail and allow it to continue to grow as we would expect it to.

If you've recently run a race, had a long run, or simply just bumped your toe on something and you see darkening and bleeding beneath the nail, don't hesitate to give us a call. You can contact us by phone or through the website for an immediate appointment.

There's no reason you have to suffer with a toenail that's hurting, so if you're having pain, give us a call and we'll take good care of you.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.