The Case of the Aching Toes

It all started the weekend before last. I went to get some socks out of our sock drawer but jerked the drawer out a little too quickly. Before I could pull my foot out of the way, the drawer nicked my right foot’s ring toe. The moment of contact was incredibly painful, but I chalked it up to my foot being cold (which usually seems to make things more painful).

I thought that everything would be fine soon enough, but then I went to the gym for a bit later that day, after running on the treadmill for a while, the toe started to really hurt. By the next morning, it was red and swollen. I thought that the swelling would go away, but it has stayed about the same size and same hue of dull red for the last week or so.

The same day that I hit my toe, the toes on that foot started to ache. I figured that the pain was just radiating out of that hurt toe into the other ones. But then the toes on my left foot started hurting as well. They were fine as long as I didn’t move them, but when I curled them, they would start to ache all at once. They also felt kind of puffy and swollen and were itching like crazy.

My ring toe has refused to get better, and I started to assume that it was either sprained or broken, but since I didn’t think that there was such as a toe caste, so for the last week, I’ve been ignoring it.

With my other toes, I started to figured that my shoes were causing problems. For my job, I’m up and about a lot during the day (I’m a teacher–posts to come on teaching in Nepal and the educational system here), so I thought that walking around a lot could be aggravating my toes, especially if I was wearing poorly designed shoes. I switched from my flats to very comfortable sneakers. However, by the end of the day today, my toes were hurting more than ever.

Right when I got home today, I called my mom. She’s never had any medical training, but she knows a lot about health, disease, and the body. When I told her about my toe troubles, the first thing she thought of was Gout. People with Gout don’t process uric acid properly, and it builds up in their joints, which causes pain and inflammation. I started looking up the disease, which apparently frequently manifests in the toes, but I was still skeptical. I’m kind of young to be having symptoms of Gout, and I don’t drink much alcohol or eat much red meat, two types of food that increase your risk of having Gout

Then my mom remembered another condition having to do with swollen, painful digits, called Chilblains. I’ve been experiencing inflammation, itching, and a little bit of redness, three out of the four main symptoms wikipedia lists.

Then I read that Chilblains “can be manifestations of serious medical conditions…[like] connective tissue disease.” My first reaction was “whaaaa!?!?!”

But then I thought about it more. Even if this is what I have (and who really knows), it’s so unlikely that I have a connective tissue disease! Even if I do, there’s nothing I can do about it right now, so I’m just going to ignore that last part.

I’m very lazy about wearing socks and slippers in the house. When I told my brother-in-law that my feet were aching, possibly from the cold. He was like “Duhhhh. I saw you walking around on the freezing marble floors with bare feet yesterday. Of course you’re going to get problems like that.” He’s right. I should have known better.

Tonight, Tri starting enforcing a strict rule of socks-at-all-times, and after wearing a double layer tonight, my toes already feel less achy. So I’m hoping that this is the problem and that I can fix it by being a little more thoughtful about my footwear. I also bandaged up and taped together my ring toe and the one next to it, so hopefully that will heal quickly too.

Has this happened to anyone before? Has anyone ever heard of this happening in Nepal? Is there a Nepali name for it?