Walking in the Bush can be one of the joys of living in Africa. However, it does have its drawbacks apart from the animals you may encounter!
Last week a young man came in as an emergency, telling me that whilst walking in the bush, a thorn had gone into the inside of his left ankle. The thorn was removed completely and initially there was no pain, but about 4 hours later it was excruciating. The thorn was from a tree called in Afrikaans Kameeldoring, one of the Acacia species, certain of which are poisonous.
A local Doctor prescribed antibiotics for 10 days, but now, the foot was still very painful and only relieved by taking an anti-inflammatory every 8 hours.
Examining the site of entry(parallel to the ground and straight into the medial malleolus – that’s the lump on the inside of your ankle), – there was no inflammation, but lower down towards the arch there was some swelling and inflammation.
Standing on tip-toe was painful so initially thought of damage to the Tibialis Posterior Tendon. However, the pain was described as …”burning and running over the bridge(arch) of my foot.” As I palpated down the foot towards the sole, it was possible to create the pain, which also went “into the foot”.
A Sonar scan was ordered which showed some fluid collection around the tendon when compared to the right foot. No other pathologies were detected, such as a foreign body, thrombus, tendon tear etc.
So what is the provisional diagnosis? Possible trauma to the Tibial nerve. The diagnosis is based on the nature and site of the pain described, plus the fact that the Tibial nerve runs in the area where the thorn penetrated the foot. For the time being the treatment is local ice and continue with the anti-inflammatory.