What is a Pedal Puncture Wound?
Puncture wounds occur when a sharp object such as a knife, nail, or piece of wood pierce through the skin. They occur on the feet when a patient accidentally steps on a sharp object while walking barefoot or wearing inadequately protective footwear.
Foot puncture wounds, also known as pedal puncture wounds, have a higher risk of infection and should be examined by your podiatric doctor. Some appear superficial but may extend deeper into the tissues, carrying dirt and bacteria within it that contaminate and cause infection if left untreated.
For some patients, a puncture wound may also occur as a result of an animal bite. In this case, it's best to contact your doctor and seek immediate medical attention.
What Are the Causes of Puncture Wounds?
Pedal puncture wounds can be caused for several reasons. Walking around barefoot or wearing non-protective footwear can make you more prone to getting puncture wounds due to stepping on sharp objects. They can also occur due to:
- animal or insect bites
- accidents or injuries to your feet
Symptoms of Puncture Wounds on Your Feet
Symptoms of pedal puncture wounds include:
- redness around the wound
- numbness and tingling sensations below the puncture wound
- inability to put weight on the foot
- open sores
- pus-like drainage, especially in the case of infected puncture wounds
- debris or dirt lodged in the wound
If left untreated, pedal puncture wounds can result in serious complications such as osteomyelitis (infection of the bone), deep abscess formation, and necrosis of the skin.
What to Expect During a Puncture Wound Treatment at the Podiatrist
Puncture wounds on your feet need immediate examination and care by a podiatrist. It's highly recommended to visit your podiatrist with 24 hours of injury. Even if the wound seems minor and is not bleeding, proper cleaning and dressing of the wound will minimize the risk of infection. This is extremely important in patients with diabetes, who may not experience the typical symptoms of puncture wounds due to peripheral neuropathy or Charcot foot.
Your initial appointment will involve a thorough medical history, including any medications taken that may impede the process of recovery. Your podiatric physician will also ask when the injury happened, as well as the location and if you were wearing footwear—this is to help determine if an infection is possible, as well as the chances of dirt or debris remaining lodged in the wound.
Your physician will carefully inspect the puncture wound site to determine its size, depth, and shape. They will also evaluate your motor function, as well as your ability to feel pain around the wound site. Diagnostic tests such as MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans, along with a blood test, will also be required to detect the presence of infection or whether any foreign bodies are still present in the wound.
Depending on the symptoms and severity of the pedal puncture wound, treatment can often involve:
- properly cleaning and dressing the puncture wound
- use of antibiotics
- surgical retrieval of foreign bodies
- drainage of the puncture wound
- tetanus shot—especially if you've not had one in the past ten years