If you see blood pooling underneath a toenail or fingernail that is accompanied by intense pain, you can have immediate relief from a podiatrist. This is called a subungual hematoma–subungual meaning “under” and hematoma meaning “blood.” When blood builds up between the nail plate and nail bed, it creates a painful and unsightly injury.
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Subungual hematomas can be caused in a few different ways. You might accidentally hit your nail or drop something on it. It could be the result of sudden contact in sports or the crushing of a nail when you slam your fingers in a door. This is also a common injury for runners and athletes who wear tight shoes that don’t leave enough room for the toes.
Due to the pressure caused by the buildup of blood, intense and throbbing pain are the most common symptoms of a subungual hematoma. This will always be accompanied by red or black discoloration visible under the nail plate. Subungual hematomas can also occur in conjunction with other injuries such as fractures, cuts, and bruising of the finger itself. Even without pain, if the discoloration covers more than 50% of the nail, seek medical assistance from your podiatrist.
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Immediate relief of your pain is available with a single office visit. Your podiatrist will perform decompression, also known as trephination, to drain the blood and begin healing. After numbing the affected area, your doctor may use a cautery device to painlessly burn through the nail or the nail may be perforated by a large-gauge needle. Both methods will allow blood to drain, relieving pressure and pain. In severe cases with significant bleeding or injury to the nail plate, your podiatrist may choose to remove the nail to check for lacerations on the nail bed.
Podiatrists can treat injuries to the nails of the hands and the feet. If you have a subungual hematoma, call the Foot and Ankle Wellness Center today to get immediate relief for your pain!