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I injured myself accidentally on Friday and wound up in Accident & Emergency (ER) where I had to have an X-Ray and my toenail removed and my toe tidied up a bit. Although I've lost nails before, they've normally just gone black and dropped off without causing me any real pain. This one is rather different and it's incredibly sore, I can barely walk and so I know running isn't going to happen for a bit. I had to have the dressing changed yesterday and while the nurse said it was "Looking great - exactly what we'd want to see" I was quite shocked by how "wet" it still was.

I have a half marathon in a few months and a couple of 10 mile military endurance races this year, which I need to straight training for in boots and with a bergen (backpack). I'm also meant to be helping my wife train for her marathon, but I suspect I'll miss the boat on that as she'll end up miles ahead of me.

But, I was hoping others with similar experience or knowledge could give me an indication of what I can expect going forwards?

Are these likely to happen, or should I resign myself for 6 months of slow 5km runs?

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It's pretty subjective, as it's going to be according to your own healing rate. However, the reason that they have not really caused any pain before, is that while they are turning black and falling off, they are still acting as a protective cover for the nail bed (Much like a scab for a scrape/cut).

In this case, I am assuming that for health reasons, they had to completely remove the nail (or a significant portion), so it is basically like having an open wound with no scab. If you can stand the pain, there probably isn't any danger in running, but I am not familiar with the potential for damaging the nail bed (And thus, having a permanently deformed nail), so I would defer that part of the question to a medical professional.

  • Thanks John - good insight on why this is so different, I'd not really looked at it like that before. – Dan Jan 12 '15 at 15:23
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I am not a runner, but I had a similar issue when doing martial arts. I lost the toe-nail on my big toe on one foot. That raw nail bed was murder when it hit the top of my shoe. I did two things to deal with it. First, when I was going to be doing anything intensive, I added a padding of gauze on it and then wrapped it tightly to keep the gauze from moving. That protected the healing nail bed. Then, the harder part, I stepped down my activity level.

As with JohnP's response, definitely bandage it. First, it will help prevent any sort of damage. Secondly, it will protect your socks and shoes should it start bleeding.

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