You were walking around your sewing room when all of a sudden you feel a sharp poke on the bottom of your foot. You quickly sit down and you see that a needle has pierced through the skin and there is a little bit of bleeding; you see that there is still enough of the needle sticking out of your foot, that with a tweezers you may be able to get a hold of it and remove it.
Should you do this? No!
It is not uncommon for patients to be walking and accidently step on something. However, many people do not know the correct protocol for this when it happens. To begin with, if something has penetrated your foot and you lift your foot off the ground, if the object does not fall out on its own, then you must not attempt to remove the foreign object yourself. This includes trying to use a tweezers to pull it out. This is a serious mistake that many people make. It is best to visit the podiatrist after you step on something and let the podiatrist remove it for the following reasons:
- Your tweezers or tool that you will try to use in not sterile and since the skin is open the risk for infection is high. A podiatrist will have the proper instruments to remove the foreign object; additionally, the instrument will be autoclaved before use, which means that all bacteria will be killed, so the risk for infection from the instrument is dramatically decreased.
- The foreign object may have gone deep into the foot, such as the sewing needle in this example. If you are only able to see the portion of the needle sticking outside of the foot, you are unable to know which structures, such as muscle, arteries, and veins, have been penetrated. If the foreign object has been pushed in deep or you are no longer able to view the object, the podiatrist will be able to utilize various imaging modalities, such as x-rays or MRI, to find the object as well as identify if any structures have been damaged. It is important that you do not remove the object even if you would be able to, because removing the object could cause more damage to the structures, cause more bleeding, and once again your risk for infection has increased.
- If the foreign object has caused bleeding, you may need to have stitches in order to properly close the wound and allow for adequate healing.
- Lastly, depending on what you stepped on, you may need various medications. For example, antibiotics may need to be prescribed if your foot was unclean when you stepped on the object, such as if you were barefoot. You may also need a tetanus shot to kill Clostridium tetani. This bacteria can enter the body through a puncture wound, and risk of this bacteria is especially high if the object you stepped on was outside, such as on a farm, or a rusty nail. Clostridium tetani can cause the disease tetanus also known as lockjaw, which is a deadly infection; the disease manifests with very severe uncontrollable muscle spasms.
If you have stepped on something remember to visit the Platte Valley Foot and Ankle Clinic for removal and further treatment if needed.