What might be wrong with my toe? (Long and tedious)

The SMDB is not my doctor and this is not a formal request for medical advice, etc etc you are all absolved of responsibilities and whatnot. While I would appreciate any thoughts on what might be going on here, I’m looking again now at the long rambling post I’ve made below and wondering if it’s really fit for General Questions, or would be more appropriate in MPSIMS…
Short version: Big toe isn’t fractured, but there is a sharp pain somewhere inside that recurred after recovering.
Long version (not that all this information might be useful but I feel like writing it all out just so I can better keep track of it myself, at least): Ok, so one day I woke up and my left big toe was aching curiously. I thought little of it at the time, but it very gradually increased throughout the day, and the next morning the pain had become quite significant, and I began to have difficulty walking due to the swelling. I tried to think of when I could have possibly injured it, and my best guess (at the time!) was that I had somehow kicked the concrete wall next to my bed in my sleep and stubbed it. I had done absolutely nothing the day prior to first noticing the pain but sit at my home office desk and do computer work. I was out dancing quite late the night before that, though I don’t recall injuring it in the slightest, and there was no problem at all during that boring day of work.

I did a few layman’s tests to figure out if the bone was broken, and while they were inconclusive (cause hey I certainly don’t have any medical training but when you can’t walk you have an awful lot of free time to google things). There was no discoloration besides a very slight expected pinkish tint from the swelling, no apparent infection or skin damage, the angle didn’t seem to indicate a break, and very very very tiny movements didn’t seem to cause extraordinary pain. It was just really swollen and aching and completely incapable of bending. I got some medical tape and cotton and gently splinted it to the next toe, though all this seem to do was made it ache more due to even the mild pressure of the tape. Apparently the short hobble-walk I took to get those supplies wasn’t worth it though, because…

Soon after the ankle of the same foot began to swell up and I became utterly incapable of placing any weight on that foot. Ibuprofen, icing, and elevation had no effect at all, so with a little help from a friend I managed to hop on one foot (this is not recommended!) to a doctor, an orthopedic clinic to be precise. I should mention at this point that I’m living in Tokyo without Japanese health insurance, so this clinic was referred to me by a ‘hospitals for gaijin’ hotline. While I speak passable conversational Japanese, a lot of complex medical terms are beyond me. The clinic was incredibly cheap, no questions asked, and was certainly dirtier and more suspicious than I could ever imagine a clinic to be, but since I had no insurance and no open wounds I figured it was the best I could get under the circumstances, and on a Sunday no less. Were I inclined to fantasy, I would imagine this to be the sort of place gangsters go when they need stitches without any bothersome paperwork. Sorry, I’ve digressed.

So I got a few x-rays and the doctor spent several long moments probing around the foot and to with his hands and concentrating intently. The x-ray showed no fracture (although he took three, from slightly different angles, and I only ever saw the top-down view). Touching the toe didn’t hurt at all, oddly enough. At the end he gave me some lecture about my shoes being too tight and gave me a few prescriptions and sent me on my way. At the time I was simply happy there was no fracture.

Well, the prescriptions helped quite a bit, though naturally I hadn’t heard of them before. Lorcam, or according to google, Lornoxicam, a “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) of the oxicam class” seemed to help with the pain and swelling (like super-Ibuprofen, I guess?), but I was also prescribed something written in japanese as アシノン. A little investigation concluded that this is Nizatidine, a… stomach acid/ulcer medication? I can’t imagine why I was prescribed this, as I had no stomach troubles. My only guess is perhaps it was designed to stave off some adverse reaction from the previous medication?

Aaaanyway… so gradually it got better. I could hobble again, then walk with a minor limp, and finally I seemed to get back to at least 90-95% motion. Just when things were starting to get back to normal though, I felt it getting a little sore again. Were my shoes tied too tight? That seemed to be it, the toe pressing against the inside of the shoe. It was aching a little, but that night I foolishly dismissed it and of all things did some pushups before bed. Pushups, of course, require that one balance on one’s arched toes. Well needless to say the next day the pain and swelling returned again, and the day after that (today) it was quite blimped up again.

It was at this point I decided to poke and prod some more and I realized that it doesn’t hurt at all to touch the “front” of the toe, i.e. to push it gently back towards the foot. I once stubbed another toe in the past while awake (“telescoped” it, good lord even the word sounds painful), and I distinctly remember the awful pain and black bruising associated with that. But I still had not developed a bruise on this toe, and that sort of motion was not causing the pain, so I began to question if I had ever sleep-stubbed it at all! A close inspection revealed the swelling to be (apparently) centered around an area on the top right side of the knuckle behind the nail. There does not appear to be an ingrown toenail, but I wonder if one is in danger of forming, as the swelling seems to have bent the nail into kind of an L-bracket shape. Or has my foot always been shaped like that? I never paid that much attention. It is right around this area near the knuckle where if I apply pressure, I feel a very sharp, focused, almost piercing-like pain. The kind of pain my untrained imagination would assume is a sharp splinter of bone fragment, but… well, how conclusive are x-rays?

As of right now, it seems to be recovering slightly from where it was at earlier in the day/last night. I can walk, if I treat that half of the foot gingerly. I imagine if I take it easy again for a few days it should continue healing… but how long will it truly take to become completely healed? Or is there something very serious and undetected that might be causing permanent damage? What the heck did I do to my toe?

I betcha it’s gout. Very common in the big toe. Comes out of no where. Hurts like hell, with just a little swelling. I get it maybe once a year and Anti-inflamitories fix me right up.

Wow, very interesting… reading up on this now, and it’s definitely something I’m going to try and have a doctor look into further. I know self-diagnosis is no replacement for proper medical care, but a lot of what I’m reading makes sense. Thanks!

On the plus side, if it is gout, a quick course of indomethicin and colchicine will fix you up right away, and a bit of a change in diet can keep it away for good … :smiley: One little blood test [which the doctor SHOULD have done] can tell you for certain if you have it.

I have pseudogout … no dietary control, cant medically ‘rinse out’ the crystals and I cant stop the crystals from forming in the tiny little joints in both feet … life sucks.

IANAD but this sounded a lot like gout to me too. Comes on pretty quick, no visible signs of injury, puffy and red, pain can migrate from toe(s) to ankle, episode can reoccur, etc. Is the pain pretty intense? Do you stare at your toe and think “My gosh, how in the world can something so small hurt so bad?”

The uric acid concentration in your blood is easy to test for. No sense in “walking on crushed glass” if you don’t have to. Good luck!

My first guess was gout.

My FIL had it ance a few Christmases ago - very painful.

I’m really sorry to hear that. Just thinking… the worst episode I ever had was after too much physical exertion in the heat and becoming very dehydrated. Have you tried or do you get any relief by trying to maintain a high level of hydration, lots of water, Gatorade, etc?

sort of … made it interesting when they were playing with BP meds, and one of the first ones they do with women is essentially a wicked diuretic. After peeing my brains out for 7 hours, doubling my usual water intake because I literally couldn’t generate enough spit to swallow, i had flare in both feet [normally it picks one side or the other, depending I guess on which side I put more stress] though being diabetic it is water not gatorade which is basically sugar water.

The issue is not actually a hydration thing per se … i need to form the calcium pyrophosphade crystals to be deposited in my bones for rigidity and to do the whole muscle thing [i am rather fond of my heart beating and not living in a bucket :D] Unfortunately my body has decided to deposit a few crystals in random joints now and then, and then drawing my attention to it catastrophically. Last time was a 2 cm edema. It is sort of pitiful but I joke I would have them amputate my feet to stop the pain, but with my luck I would get phantom cppd attacks …:frowning:

You should call a toe truck.
sorry, I can’t help myself.

Those were my words almost EXACTLY! The pain and swelling are down a bit more today thanks to the ibuprofen and rest. I’m almost totally convinced it’s gout now, it makes perfect sense… like the fact that it’s most frequently causes by diets high in meat and I tend to eat meat for, oh, just about every meal of the day. And that sedentary individuals are at a higher risk for it… now, starting about 2-3 years ago I began to take my physical fitness pretty seriously and I started lifting weights, losing fat, putting on muscle… I’m still a tad overweight but not obese, but I’ve realized that even with the weight lifting, the rest of my day does tend to be pretty sedentary. Dang computer jobs.

I’m wondering if the large amounts of whey protein I’ve been consuming have been contributing to it? I’ve read that the increase in uric acid in the blood is caused by the cellular matter (DNA/RNA?) of foods such as meats, and not the actual protein, so therefore whey protein should be safe, but then I’ve also heard that consuming large amounts of protein taxes the kidneys and maybe that’s also a contributing factor?

Well anyways, thanks everyone, I greatly appreciate the comments! Going to go negotiate a blood test to find out for sure soon.

IANAD but my neighbor is and I have a hurt toe. He told me it could be arthritis. I’m 46 and coach soccer. It’s my preferred kicking foot.

Aparently I can get a steroid shot which will last for a few months.

Another gout sufferer here. Started on Allopurinol a couple of years ago and haven’t had a bout since. Even better, it’s only $4.00 a month.

Sounds like Gout to me as well.