First of all, my apologies for subjecting you to a story about my feet. I know many of us don’t particularly enjoy thinking about our own feet, let alone other people’s, but I share my experience in the hopes that you might feel less alone if you too have faced podiatric struggles recently. Here’s what happened: Earlier this week, a violent altercation between a rogue computer cord and my foot ended in pain and confusion, and resulted in my big toe having to be iced and immobilized while a large purple bruise blossomed around its base. This was the latest in a series of foot injuries I had experienced in recent months, most of them minor but annoying. My toes seemed to be constantly jamming, slamming, and stubbing themselves against any and all hard surfaces in my apartment. When I complained about this, a friend of mine told me that her boyfriend had also recently broken his toe. We were in good company, it turns out.
As Elizabeth Chang at the Washington Post reported in January, there has been a massive uptick in toe and foot injuries since COVID hit. “There’s a pandemic of broken toes,” John Keeling, an orthopedic surgeon in Maryland told the Post. Keeling estimates that during the pandemic, he’s seen triple or quadruple the number of broken toes he usually would.
With many working from home, and rushing around their houses barefoot, Keeling says that a lot more people have been bumping their feet into furniture, and dropping bottles and jars on their toes. And even just stubbing your toe can result in a nasty break. As Keeling explained, the little bones in your toe are no match for “all the energy and momentum that’s in your leg and foot driving your foot into the corner of a wall or into the corner of a hard piece of furniture.”
While my personal approach to this most recent injury has been to tape my big toe to its neighbor with Scotch tape and ice it occasionally (okay, Meredith Grey vibes!!!) experts recommend that those who sustain toe injuries get an X-ray if possible to determine whether it’s sprained or broken so they can treat it appropriately. And as for avoiding future toe injuries if we spend so much time at home, maybe consider wearing a pair of slippers around the house? Anyway, best of luck to you and your toes going forward.