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A Podiatrist's opinion on ingrown toenails. A look into PNA and TNA. Is it painful?

Ingrown toenails can be an uncomfortable and painful condition that affects millions of people worldwide. They occur when the edges of the toenail grow into the surrounding skin, leading to redness, swelling, tenderness, and even infection.


Image Source: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/ingrown-toenailsinfo

Not all ingrown toenails require partial nail avulsion. The treatment for an ingrown toenail depends on the severity and the extent of the condition. In less severe cases, conservative treatments may be sufficient. These can include soaking the foot in warm water or getting a podiatrist to gently clip/lift the ingrown edge of the nail using a sterile instrument. While various home remedies and conservative treatments can help alleviate the symptoms temporarily, severe cases often require professional intervention.



Podiatrists, or foot specialists, play a crucial role in treating ingrown toenails and offer surgical solutions such as Partial Nail Avulsion (PNA) and Total Nail Avulsion (TNA) to provide long-term relief. In this blog post, we will explore what podiatrists do for PNA and TNA surgeries and address concerns regarding the potential pain involved in these procedures.





Understanding Partial Nail Avulsion (PNA) and

Total Nail Avulsion (TNA) Surgeries

Partial Nail Avulsion (PNA): PNA is a common surgical procedure used to treat ingrown toenails. During a PNA, a podiatrist numbs the affected toe with a local anaesthetic to ensure the patient's comfort. Once the area is numb, the podiatrist carefully removes a portion of the ingrown toenail from the affected side. This may involve cutting away a section of the nail, including the offending nail border or spike that is causing the problem. After the removal, the podiatrist may apply a chemical called phenol to the nail bed to prevent the ingrown portion from growing back. The procedure is relatively quick and is usually completed in a podiatrist's office.

Total Nail Avulsion (TNA): TNA is a surgical option recommended for more severe cases of ingrown toenails or when conservative treatments have failed to provide relief. During a TNA, the entire nail is removed from the affected toe under local anaesthesia. This procedure allows the podiatrist to thoroughly address the underlying problem, such as a misshapen or overly thickened nail plate. After the nail removal, the podiatrist may use phenol or another agent to prevent the regrowth of the nail plate if treatment plan requires it.


Addressing Concerns about Pain


The level of pain experienced during PNA and TNA surgeries can vary from person to person. Podiatrists take several measures to ensure patient's comfort throughout the procedure.



  • Local Anaesthesia: Before starting the surgery, a podiatrist administers a local anaesthetic (usually 2% Xylocaine/Lidocaine) to numb the affected toe. This ensures that the patient does not experience any pain during the procedure.

  • Preoperative Consultation: Prior to the surgery, the podiatrist will discuss the procedure, potential sensations, and postoperative care with the patient. This helps manage expectations and address any concerns the patient may have.

  • Postoperative Pain Management: After the surgery, the podiatrist will provide appropriate pain management instructions and may prescribe pain medication if necessary. Most patients report only mild discomfort or soreness after the procedure.

  • Individual Sensitivity: It's important to note that everyone has a different pain threshold, so experiences may vary. However, most patients find that the temporary discomfort during the surgery is a small price to pay for the long-term relief from ingrown toenail pain.

  • Phenolisation: When prevention of any regrowth of the ingrown toenails are required, the podiatrist will use phenol therapy. The aim of phenolising is to chemically destruct the nail matrix, preventing any future growth of the nail.


Ingrown toenails can significantly impact one's quality of life, but they can be effectively treated by podiatrists through surgical interventions such as PNA and TNA. While these procedures may cause temporary discomfort, podiatrists take necessary steps to minimise pain during the surgery and provide postoperative care to manage any discomfort afterward. If you are have chronic ingrown toenails, it is essential to consult with a qualified podiatrist who can assess your condition and recommend the most suitable treatment plan, which may include PNA or TNA surgery if other conservative measures have failed. Remember, seeking professional care can bring long-term relief and improve your overall foot health and well-being.

We hope this information helps with understanding ingrown toenail better and how a podiatrist can help. We are located at 108 Bridport St, Albert Park Vic 3206, or you can call us on 03 8648 7678.


Alternatively, you can click on the book now button below and it will take you to our online booking page.











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