A Sore toe…and a sharp needle

toeAfter the mongo Monday hike, my parts were fussing. The left knee, of course. The quadriceps chimed in and harmonized with the hamstrings.

But first in line at the Complaint Department:

The big toes.

Swollen, bruised, hot and tender. Every step of the second half of the hike, the toe protest increased. And I was wearing the boots specifically acquired because the last ones banged up my big toes. Sigh. It took a bit to roust up nail polish remover to adequately assess the damage.

As I feared, nails black and blue and generally swollen. Painful. Have had this before (see above about old hiking boots). And generally suffered through.

Sought out internet wisdom this time.

Vocabulary words for the day are “trephination” and “subungual hematoma”.

Subungual hematoma is a common injury, often called “runner’s toe”, or “tennis toe”.  I vote for the name, “hiker’s toe.” Blood and bruising underneath the nail make for an injury

toe surgery

Still can’t believe I’m doing this. Do surgeons generally wear bracelets?

that’s not dangerous, but extremely painful for its size.

I’m here to confirm that.


Drill a burr hole in your toenail with a trephine, any sharp instrument. A straightened paperclip, a needle, scissors, or, in this case, a large safety pin.

Best to heat the trephine—a new word will get you a bingo in Scrabble. In part, heating will sterilize it, and also make the drilling easier. Cannot tell you how many sites I read, videos I watched. “It will not hurt!” Every single one says that. And they are right.

Main problem is the worry about the hurt. The idea that you are DRILLING INTO YOUR TOENAIL. And the pressure involved in holding your hurt toe.

But you drill away on your toenail until an opening is created, at which point liquid gushes out. Seriously. Watch out for your eye. Have tissues at the ready. All of that liquid in your toe–in my toe!—no wonder it hurts.


My tootsies afterward….an improvement. Really.

No blood, maybe a little pinkish, but the liquid is created by the body dealing with the injury. And drilling the hole relieves the pressure and the pain–to a degree– and helps promote healing. I slathered up afterwards with antibiotic cream and a bandage, which continued to juice up.

Enough excitement for one day.

Think I’ll give my toes a rest for a while.

Before buying them new hiking boots.


About Karen Ray

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1 Response to A Sore toe…and a sharp needle

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