Ingrown toenails are a well-known cause of pain around the toenails, but they're not the only cause. Your toenail pain could also be caused by subungual exostosis, a benign bone tumor beneath the toenail. Here are four things you need to know about subungual exostosis.
What are the signs of subungual exostosis?
Any of your toenails can be affected by subungual exostosis, but the big toe is the most commonly affected site. The main symptom is pain beneath the toenail, which can persist for several months. In addition to this pain, you'll experience erythema (red skin) around the affected nail. The nail bed may also become deformed due to the growth of the tumor.
If you experience these symptoms, your podiatrist will take an x-ray of your toes. If subungual exostosis is the cause of your pain, a bony spur will be visible on the x-ray image.
Why does subungual exostosis develop?
The exact cause of these bone tumors still isn't known. Podiatrists think that micro trauma to the nail may play a role. Micro trauma refers to chronic, low-level trauma and includes things like wearing shoes that are too short and put pressure on your toenails. Infections that affect the toenails, like nail fungus, are also thought to play a role. Additionally, genetic abnormalities are suspected to be involved in some cases.
Can subungual exostosis become cancerous?
The word "tumor" makes many people think of cancer, but subungual exostosis is not cancerous and will not become cancerous in the future. The tumor is just a benign accumulation of extra bone tissue, and there has never been a case of malignant transformation reported in the medical literature.
How is subungual exostosis treated?
There are multiple options for treating subungual exostosis. If the tumor is small, your podiatrist may recommend permanently removing your nail and leaving the tumor in place. Once the nail is gone, nothing will press against your tumor, and it won't hurt.
The other option is to remove the tumor without permanently removing the nail. If the tumor is small and isn't disfiguring your nail, the podiatrist will make a horizontal incision (called a fish mouth incision) at the end of your toe to access and remove the tumor. If your tumor is large enough to disfigure your nail, the nail will be temporarily removed, the tumor will be removed, and then the nail will grow back.
If your toenail hurts, don't assume it's just an ingrown toenail. Make an appointment with a podiatrist, like one at Foot & Ankle Center Of Philadelphia, to find out what's really causing your toenail pain.
I have never struggled with any serious medical problems, which is why I was a little apprehensive to head to the doctor when I noticed that my toes were itchy and inflamed. I didn't want to report a problem that would disappear on its own within a few days, so I decided to wait it out. Unfortunately, the issue continued to get worse until I could barely walk. I decided to visit a doctor, and he was a ton of help. He told me that I had developed a fungal infection, and that it could be serious if it wasn't treated. I got the help that I needed, and now my toes feel great. This blog is here to help other people to learn more about podiatry.