Everyone Is Breaking Their Toes Because of the Pandemic

“There’s a pandemic of broken toes."

broken toe
A doctor who probably should be giving a COVID test but instead has to deal with this guy's broken toe.
Getty Images

In addition to the potentially lethal virus itself, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our health in myriad other ways. Pandemic conditions been linked to a rise in mental illness, substance abuse, obesity and now, apparently, broken toes.

Multiple podiatry experts told the Washington Post they’ve seen a considerable uptick in toe breaks over the past several months of pandemic life, with Maryland-based orthopedic surgeon John Keeling even going as far as to identify a “pandemic of broken toes,” claiming he’s treated three to four times the usual number of broken toes in the months since the pandemic took hold.

“The short reason is that with the pandemic, people are spending more time at home,” podiatrist Ben Pearl told the paper. And what exactly are we doing at home that’s proven so perilous for our toes? For one thing, we’re not wearing shoes as often as we used to. In pandemic times, many of us are spending the vast majority of our days stumbling around our homes barefoot like a bunch of shoeless degenerates, leaving our toes vulnerable to the dangers of homebound life.

Those dangers mostly include stumbling into furniture, especially if we’ve recently moved it around to create home workspaces or taken up amateur home renovation in a fit of quarantine boredom.

Another culprit threatening toes everywhere these days? That pandemic drinking habit you’ve picked up. “People are dropping bottles of wine on the big toe,” Keeling told the Washington Post, adding that those pandemic-sized wine bottles “seem to be a big killer” for big toes.

While I myself have somehow yet to drop a bottle of wine on my foot, I have fallen victim to yet another broken-toe risk factor: being drunk and stupid in a swimming pool. After spending an entire day swilling rosé poolside back in August, I awoke the next morning with a throbbing black middle toe. After a quick Web MD search convinced me it had definitely gone necrotic, I rushed off to urgent care where a poor doctor with a lobby full of patients waiting to get COVID tests was forced to take precious time out of his day to tell me that my toe was not necrotic and that I had, most likely, broken it without realizing while stumbling around the pool area in a day-drunk blackout.

I thought I had only myself to blame for this little misadventure and the unnecessary X-ray bill I later paid, but fortunately it turns out it was all the pandemic’s fault and I am actually among a league of survivors whose toes have fallen victim to the far-reaching chaos of COVID-19. Let this be a reminder to us all of the golden rule of pandemic times: when in doubt, blame COVID.

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