The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Tales of Ingrown Toenails: How Could Something So Small Cause So Much Pain?

Posted by on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014


“Who knew a tiny little toenail could cause so much pain? For the past week I’ve been battling an ingrown toenail,” says New Zealand journalist Rachel Young. She describes how her middle toe swelled up so bad she couldn’t sleep. Despite the pain and swelling, she thought she’d “give it a few days” before seeing a doctor. In the meantime, her toe was changing colors and hurting so much she couldn’t wear shoes. “The doctor took one look and prescribed antibiotics,” she reported. A week later, she was able to fit into her athletic trainers again. As the story illustrates, ingrown toenails are no joke!

ingrown toenail
Ingrown toenails cause tremendous pain as the nail digs into the soft tissue. Image Source:

Ingrown Toenails May Require Surgery

My first introduction to ingrown toenails came from my husband. He had smashed his toenail beneath a door… which may or may not have been my fault. As the nail grew, it decided to turn on him, digging further into his toe instead of growing up and out as a good toenail should. The pain escalated to where it was throbbing, rubbing on his shoe and causing daily aggravation.

Finally he went in to see a podiatrist and walked out the same day, with a portion of his nail debrided (removed). He called me to say, “Hey, I just had foot surgery. I’m fine. I’ll be driving myself home now.” The next few days were tough as he had to remove the bandages, which were sticking to his wound and causing him to howl like a bear.

He soaked his foot in Betadine solution faithfully so it would heal properly. But alas, a year later, the toenail was hit again and began acting up. This time, my husband opted to have the nail totally removed to encourage the new nail to grow in normally. The doc said the propensity to suffer from ingrown toenails can be genetic, but that nail removal had a good chance at clearing up the situation.

It’s been several years and his new nail is healthy, but we’ll never forget how much pain and suffering such a small nail could cause!

The Cost of an Ingrown Toenail

A small problem can sometimes escalate into a big bill, especially if you leave something like an ingrown toenail untreated for months. It’s best to tackle such an issue within the same week you notice the redness, swelling or pain.

The cost to treat ingrown toenails ranges, depending on the type of procedure, your insurance provider and plan, as well as your geographic location. The Healthcare Blue Book lists a price of $323 for the average ingrown toenail removal procedure.

Another resource cites that a minor debridement procedure may cost as low as $192 (including the office visit), whereas full nail removal can cost as much as $400. (Note: We do not agree with the author that you will be able to find someone who will do the procedure for as little as $50… unless you are having it done in a back alley with an untrained thug wielding a razor blade!)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a man from Clovis claims his ingrown toenail set him back $3,000! Most cost guides agree that you should budget around $500 for your ingrown toenail treatment, which is about what we paid.

ingrown toenail podiatrist
It’s important to find a qualified professional podiatrist to take care of your ingrown toenail.
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Who To Call For Ingrown Toenail Removal

A New York City podiatrist can make short work of your ingrown toenail problem. Fill out a brief online contact form for The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine to be seen by one of our ingrown toenail specialists.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.