Lingering Soreness from Frostbitten Toe

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by PellucidWombat » Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:37 pm

It came from a combination of prolonged exposure to extreme cold and very wet feet from Mt Shasta.

Temps w/ windchill varied from 10 F to -25 F for over 24 hrs and my feet got drenched digging the snowcaves and the rime ice, and I was unable to dry out my feet or the Koflach boots. So despite having warm boots and socks my big toe got a little frostbitten, though there was barely any sign when I first got off the mountain - it took about 4 days before it really started aching and looking bad.

Oddly my finger's frostbite appeared worse, but it healed quickly and hasn't given me any problems since, apart from slightly greater sensitivity to cold, which I expected.

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by John Duffield » Thu Jul 01, 2010 7:58 pm

If you must persist in doing a self diagnosis...

When I got Frostbitten on Aconcagua 2 years ago, I was surprised where much of the information was. There weren't Docs here that knew much about it. Seems the 8th Air Force, bombing Germany in WWII, had a serious problem with it. Lots of documentation. Much of the anecdotal stuff is available through those sources. I actually got a little lost in the war stories.

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by mrchad9 » Thu Jul 01, 2010 11:12 pm

Vitaliy M wrote:
mrchad9 wrote:
PellucidWombat wrote:haha, I have a huge deductible, so if there was any advice that seemed level-headed, I figured I might as well start there since the pain is fairly moderate, but annoying. Otherwise, the doctor awaits!

I actually got pretty cold the weekend before Memorial weekend, not expecting such cold weather. Had some fleece gloves but they weren't enough on a windy ridge with freezing temps.

Started experiencing some of the same symptoms you have, not coloration but tingling. Still a little but so slight I'm not concerned anymore, but lasted a couple weeks. I was surprised, so I guess I'm interested to see what folks come up with too.

Another fine example of America's health care system for all those who think it is so far and away the best.

Don't want to argue with you...but, if I follow your post it seems like you blame our health-care system for not wearing warm enough gloves on a windy ridge with freezing temps?

If I happen to have an emergency I would not want to be anywhere but here in US. Not saying it is the greatest system, I too think a lot has to change (especially insurance crap), but for emergency care we are in the elite few.

That's not what I was saying. I got a bit cold but no frostbite and have since recovered, and if I needed to go in to the doctor I could have, as my current job provides adequate coverage for me.

My statement on America's health care was in response to PellucidWombat's situation (or mine if I had a different job or was unemployed). There are far too many in a position like his, and millions in an even worse situation. He has a high deductible plan which encourages people to go without early treatment, delaying it until it is potentially worse and more expensive to address. Routine and preventative activities, and initial consultations, should be free, not subject to high deductibles, to avoid a situation like his.

If you have a medical issue you might want to be in the US. But if I had a medical issue, and no insurance, I would want to be in just about any other country.

I was with someone who broke their toe in Thailand (or at least it was swollen and believed to be broken). Went to the emergency room, got x-rays, examination, and a prescription for pain killers and antibiotics. Total time and cost was less than 1 hour and under $35- with no appointment necessary. Now what do you think that process would be like here- insurance or not?

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by mrchad9 » Fri Jul 02, 2010 1:23 am

Vitaliy M wrote:I see.
Well the beauty of US is you can CHOOSE which insurance you want. If you feel like you are young and don't need a full coverage you can choose one that covers less. It is a free choice. As I understand PW is a Structural Engineer, so as I understand he can choose which insurance to get.
If you are in US and you have an emergency it does not matter if you are legal, illegal, have insurance, or don't have insurance, you will be provided top service. If however you are not covered by the insurance you have, you will have to pay a crazy amount of money for something that costs a lot less than you will be charged (I am also on your side regarding prices charged by insurance companies..they are insane and need more control). But, again you have the choice of which insurance to get, and if you want to gamble it is up to you.
Alright, I am off to enjoy 2 days of all kinds of climbing, enjoy your weekend! : )))))

PS: Where were you in Thailand? I went to Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket for 2.5 weeks couple of years ago. Amazing place. Hope you saw muay thai fights, and rode elephants!

Yes- I think the US system is fine for some, but too expensive for everyone for what they get, myself included. I worry about my retirement age being decided by being able to afford health care when I am not working. And the US system is not so good for those that have some money, but not much.

My weekend doesn't begin for another day... boo hoo. but it'll last at least 4 days once I start it.

You definitely went to the right spots. Been to Thailand 5 times in the last two years I think- some for work, some not. Have learned to speak a decent amount of the language, but hard to keep the pronunciation correct. Been to each of those places and will be back again soon- actually would like to visit Chiang Mai sometime. The best of course is Pattaya (and that is where we visited the hospital- but the injury was a day earlier on Phuket). Fed and rode elephants, pet tigers, fed baby tigers, elephant picked me up by its trunk, monkey show, snake snow, etc... etc... the animals are truely amazing. And of course- muay thai.

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by PellucidWombat » Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:58 pm

Vitaliy M wrote:Don't take Aspirin to promote circulation. Aspirin has some nasty side effects that you don't want. To promote circulation, keep yourself hydrated, warm, and move it around couple of times an hour at least, if you are resting (not during the night).
See what some actual MDs have to say, don't listen to anyone online offering a medication that "promotes circulation and healing." It would be best to contact a doc who has experience with frostbite, don't think your family doctor would be the best to talk to. It is up to you to decide what is more important, but personally if I had to pay some money for a visit to a person who probably knows better, I would take that over my toe being amputated (even though doc is not a final cure, and even he/she may not know what to do). You know best what it looks like now, and how it feels. If the color is not black anymore, and it does not bleed maybe it is ok to be more passive. However, if there is a chance of it getting an infection I would really see a trained pro.
Good luck!

It never looked all that bad, except for about a week after Shasta when a lot of the internal bruising began to show through. This healed up and now the toe looks perfectly fine, though when it gets more sore the area near the original damage looks a tad swollen and starved of oxygen.

Since it didn't look too bad after Shasta, I'd been pretty insistent on self-treatment in the form of adequate hydration, keeping it extra warm, avoiding confinement, and keeping off of it until it looked/felt better (same with the finger, which looked worse, but has fully recovered). Eventually the toe got back to normal, but now it seems to be sensitive again, though it looks fine, so I figure it's on a 'moderate' level of attention for seeking out treatment vs. watching it and doing a few mild treatments (e.g. easing up on it and trying to improve circulation). It's been slow enough to heal in general that it might just be oscillating a bit in it's sensitivity.

I figure if it begins to take a turn for the worse or doesn't look any better by the time my next set of trips is over, I'll take the time to see a specialist.

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by SoCalHiker » Tue Jul 06, 2010 4:22 pm

Vitaliy M wrote:...For example, claudification is a condition when for any reason arteries in legs get narrow. ...

Don't want to come across as too critical but it's "claudication" (claudicatio intermittens)


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