Is an old splinter dispersing into my bloodstream?

When I was between 10-13 yrs old I was out sweeping my grandmas patio with an old broom and I caught a relatively large splinter from it. Definitely less than half a cm long but almost.

It has been there my whole life and I’m 29 now. Never showed any obvious signs of problems besides when it bled at first. The only thing worrying me now is that it has slowly been disappearing and not through the surface.

Where is it going? Should I be worried about where it goes? Can it be the source of my heart palpitations?
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  1. Well there’s only one place it can go - your immune cells are somehow slowly dissolving it. The pieces are in your bloodstream and then go out through your kidneys
  2. No you shouldn’t be worried, though I do wonder why you don’t get it removed
  3. Probably not causing your heart problems.

It’s more or less a little spot now. Most of it is gone so removing it would be more trouble than it is worth. It’s nice to know my immune system is figuratively evaporating a piece of wood though.
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Worth clarifying that by “pieces” SamuelA means “constituent molecules or atoms.” Your body is remarkably good as degrading stuff, and the immune system is constructed to do so as needed. Indeed it is something of a challenge to create artificial things for long term residence in your body that it won’t quietly degrade into nothing.

Sometimes your body will wall off an intrusive body, and it will sit there for ages. This tends to slow down the natural degradation. Sometimes objects will quietly erupt from your skin quite unexpectedly years after. Military veterans talk of shrapnel working its way out all their lives.

Satisfy my curiosity - Why?:confused:

I learned this as a child: glass and metal are rejected by the body, but wooden splinters are absorbed.

They never said you would die.

Yeah - some things become encysted with scar tissue and stay there forever (well, for a lifetime. Nothing is forever) - but like any other sort of cyst, they can also sometimes erupt and empty themselves. Some organic stuff like thorns sometimes get a minor local infection and this seems to eject them from the body when it surfaces - no idea if that’s just a complete accident of the immune system or something that has developed in response to splinters and thorns.

I’ve heard of sharp objects like glass and shrapnel ‘migrating’ and coming out somewhere other than the point of entry - if they are sharp on one side and blunt on another, movement will tend to push them in a consistent direction.

I read this as a child so veracity is unknown but the story was that a woman swallowed a needle as a child only to have it emerge from the thigh of her daughter.

Mother Nature has a way of ejecting foreign bodies.

I guess there’s a nonzero chance of that sort of thing happening, but a slightly larger chance that it was just two different needles. One needle looks much like another.

Enquiring minds want to know why a simple splinter was left in for 20yrs. If you could see it to know it’s length, how was it too hard to extract?

In my case, it was because the splinter was lodged deeply into the meat at the base of my thumb, was causing no immediate harm, and going after it would’ve been an invasive mess.

I just noticed a year or two ago that it’s no longer visible, after over 30 years. Yay, immune system.

Presumably a physician could cut a tiny slit away from the nerves and tweezer it out. I wouldn’t call a tiny slit an ‘invasive mess’.

I had a decent sized redwood splinter embedded into the palm of my hand near the side when I was about 20. Some years later it eventually emerged out of the side of my hand. It didn’t really travel all that far, I think just making it all the way through in the direction it initially entered.

Even if the daughter swallowed her own needle (family tradition) would it migrate to her thigh before emerging?

I would agree with Mangetout on this one. Just the slightest bit of a nonzero chance that the same needle transferred to the fetus in the first place.

If the daughter carried on dear old mom’s tradition of tiny sword swallowing, there is once again a chance that the needle could migrate out her thigh.

The original story is virtually impossible and completely unprovable.

I’ve got a piece of pencil lead in my palm that’s been there for 45 years now. It’s not quite as dark as it used to be, but it’s there.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

QtM, physician who learned looooong ago not go to on expeditions for foreign bodies like these, lest they result in an invasive mess.