Foreign Body Foot Injuries

Foreign Body Foot Injuries

Injuries to feet by foreign bodies are common at all ages. Foreign bodies are often objects such as glass, nails, tacks, splinters or thorns. Sometimes the injury is superficial and other times, such as in the case with a puncture wound, the injury is not externally visible.


Glass injuries often bleed but can vary from minor scratches to deep cuts into skin and/or muscle. Puncture wounds are more deceptive, and damage is rarely obvious to the naked eye; however, they can become infected. Swelling and pain are indications of infection.

Some puncture wounds, such as those created by pins or needles, may not require any treatment if the patient is sure the object has been removed in its entirety. At times, puncture wounds may contain foreign bodies that were pushed into the skin by the sharp object such as materials from socks and shoes. Metal and wood sharks can leave small fragments in the wound.


The type of treatment warranted will depend entirely on the type of object that penetrated the foot and how deep the penetration went. Splinters tend to be germ ridden and can cause infections and/or allergic reactions if not removed.

If a tetanus shot has not been administered to the patient within the last ten years, it may be necessary to prevent infection. An antibiotic may be administered if your physician is concerned about potential infection.

Your physician may order a radiograph to confirm the presence of any foreign bodies in the wound. Glass, metal and stone can be detected by x-ray. Plastic, aluminum or wood would require an ultrasound for detection.

Lacerations from glass may require the cleaning of the wound and stitches. The physician may test for any loss of sensation of motion which can indicate nerve damage. This is less likely to result from a puncture wound.

Diabetic patients are highly susceptible to infection. They may not feel the injury due to numbness in the foot and leg area. Often, their first hint of a problem is an odor emanating from the resulting infection. Aggressive treatment may be necessary in order to prevent amputation.