Ingrown toenails are a very common condition. However, that does not change the fact that many sufferers delay treatment. Unfortunately, most patients will not seek treatment for ingrown toenails until the condition becomes impossible to bear. By that stage, surgery is usually the only option available for removing the affected toenails.
Ingrown Toenail Causes
Ingrown toenails can develop for a number of reason, not all of which are avoidable. The most common cause of ingrown toenails is cutting the nails incorrectly. This results in the nail growing back in an unnatural way, causing the nails to grow into the skin. Another common cause of ingrown toenails is wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes. When the toes are crowded, it causes the toenails to press into the skin and can result in ingrown toenails. Unfortunately for some, the natural shape of the nails can also create a predisposition towards the development of ingrown toenails.
Risks of Delaying Treatment
Delaying the treatment of ingrown toenails is generally not a good idea. Pain, discomfort, and difficulty walking are the primary concerns for sufferers. However, there are potentially much more serious implications for sufferers. If and when infection sets in, the sufferer will experience swelling, further pain and discomfort, as well as discharge coming from the site of the infection. In especially serious cases of infection, there is a risk of gangrene setting in. Diabetes suffers also run a higher risk of infections developing. In many of these cases, amputation is the result of an infection that has progressed too far to treat through other means.
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
CRPS is a condition which is thought to arise from nerve damage. The condition is currently divided into two classifications, CRPS-I and CRPS-II. The former describes cases where nerve damage has not yet been established, whereas the latter refers to cases where nerve damage has been diagnosed.
Hannah Moore, a teenager from Dorset, England, had surgery carried out in 2012 to remove ingrown toenails. A short time after the surgery Hannah developed CRPS in her right leg. As the condition is commonly associated with minor surgeries, among other things, it is likely that Hannah’s condition developed a result of nerve damage suffered during the surgery.
Miss Moore went on to suffer from the condition for a year. She received multiple treatments to address her CRPS and associated symptoms, however, the treatments failed to provide any relief. Hannah’s skin began to turn black and scaly, and she suffered from extremely painful ulcers developing on her right leg. Eventually, Hannah Moore decided to take matters into her own hands and opted for a voluntary amputation of her right leg below the knee.
Ingrown Toenail Surgery
In the case of Hannah Moore, the patient had spent months suffering from her ingrown toenails before surgery was carried out. While it remains unclear whether other preventative measures would have prevented the development of CRPS, Hannah’s story does serve as a cautionary tale on the possible results of delaying treatment.
As podiatrists, the correction or removal of ingrowing toenails is a common treatment that we offer our patients. There are a number of nerve-related conditions which can both affect and stem from the feet and toes. An experienced and skilful podiatrist can correct or remove ingrown toenails while taking great care to prevent damage to surrounding tissues.
Correction is not possible in all cases, regardless of when the patient seeks treatment. However, delaying treatment will increase the chances that the patient will need surgical removal in all cases. If you have ingrown toenails, we urge you to contact Step By Step for a consultation. We may be able to remove your ingrown toenails without surgery and greatly reduce any associated risks.