The Problem With Podiatric Puncture Wounds
Podiatric puncture wounds happen frequently. Common causes include nails, sewing needles, glass shards, toothpicks, or any hard object. And while these items are small, when they break the skin, it can lead to big problems. Any non-sterile object that penetrates the skin can introduce dirt, germs, viruses, bacteria, and microorganisms that can lead to infections and other complications—some of which can be life-threatening. Even in cases where the wound looks minor and the penetrating object appears clean, the item you stepped on can be teeming with harmful bacteria. Prompt, professional medical attention is vital.
Potential Puncture Wound Complications
Don’t risk letting a relatively minor puncture wound turn into a major medical event. Here are just a few examples of the complications that can develop if you don’t seek timely medical treatment for a foot puncture wound.
Residual Foreign Bodies
When a safety pin, thumbtack, or other sharp object breaks the skin’s surface, it can push dirt, fibers and materials from your sock and shoe, pieces of your skin, and other debris into the wound. When you remove the offending object, the surrounding tissue can close around a small hole—disguising the severity of the injury and trapping residual foreign bodies deep inside the wound.
Without treatment, a podiatric puncture is more likely to leave a scar, especially if there’s a residual foreign body trapped in the wound that leads to an infection. Extensive scarring can be painful due to nerve damage or compression. In some cases, the scarring caused by an untreated (or improperly treated) puncture injury can limit your range of motion and affect your gait.
Failure to properly treat a podiatric puncture wound can lead to infections that require amputation of the foot or leg. People with diabetes and other health problems that affect the feet or result in poor circulation or slow healing are particularly at risk.
Tetanus is a potentially-fatal central nervous system disease caused by a toxin-producing bacteria called Clostridium tetani. Podiatric puncture wounds are a common cause of tetanus infections, which are characterized by painful muscle contractions and lockjaw. Although there is no cure for tetanus, a vaccine can help prevent the disease, while treatment focuses on managing symptoms as the infection runs its course.
What to Do if You’ve Suffered a Puncture Wound
- Seek immediate medical treatment
- Make an appointment with a podiatrist within 24 hours
- Keep weight off the affected foot
- Get a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one in the past 10 years
- Follow your treatment plan as prescribed, including attending follow-up visits and finishing antibiotics as directed (if applicable)
- Contact your doctor if you experience signs of possible infection such as fever, pain, redness, or swelling
Early Treatment of Podiatric Punction Wounds Can Help Prevent Complications
Puncture wounds aren’t typical lacerations and require specialized care. Even if you’ve received basic first aid or were treated in the emergency room, seeing a podiatrist as soon as possible (ideally within 24 hours of injury) is essential to eliminate foreign objects and prevent infections and other complications.
Schedule an Appointment