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toe nail growth
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toe nail growth

I have a question about two toenails that stopped growing during an illness I had last year. They also developed white stripes across them, many of which have grown out already. The reason I am asking this question now is that one of those toenails has stopped growing again, and I wonder if it is a clue about my health.

Here is some information about the illness I had last winter: I had two short episodes of double vision (lasting only minutes), sensory symptoms (buzzing, esp. in lower legs), tight leg muscles (esp. lower left leg) and for a few days difficulty walking. Under the same toes that had the toenail change I described above, I had intense stinging for several weeks. However, the toenail change only showed up later, after I had most of the tests and had seen most of the doctors. I actually underwent a lot of tests, including bloodwork, an MRI of the brain and cervical spine, a spinal tap, EMG, and evoked potentials. The only clear cut finding was a slight vitamin B12 deficiency. Further tests showed that I can absorb vitamin B12, I now take a multi-vitamin, and a test of the vitamin B12 level in the summer showed a normal level. There was also discussion about some features on the MRI of my brain, but the neurologists I saw said that they were not necessarily significant and were not clear evidence for multiple sclerosis, which was one thing they had been testing for.

We still don't know what happened last winter, and since the summer I have felt completely back to normal except that recently I sometimes have that stinging again under one toe, only milder. Last week I was cutting my toenails, and again that same toenail (2nd toe on left foot) did not need to be cut, even though all the others were long. There are no new white stripes across the toenail. I wear tennis shoes most of the time, and there is nothing about any of my footwear that I think could be disturbing the toenail. My second toe isn't longer than my big toe or anything like that. I have never seen any discussion about toenails not growing or having horizontal stripes in anything I have read about MS, which was not completely ruled out.

What do you think could be causing the change in the toenail, and would you attach any significance to the observation?
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Sue:

Nails are like the rings of a tree.  They can shed light on events which took place a long time before.  No doubt the "shock to your system" produced by your mysterious illness resulted in temporary stoppage of nail growth and the line you describe.  Toenails take about a year to grow, so you can gauge how long it will take the line to grow out.  As for the symptoms of the toe itself, I can't attach much significance to them, other than to observe that when you think and worry about some part of the body, it tingles, burns, etc.

Stay healthy if you can.

Dr. Rockoff
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