Bumblefoot with no swelling?

HudokFarm

Songster
8 Years
May 6, 2011
166
4
116
Minnesota
This morning our favorite hen was very sore on her right foot. She is a 3 y/o red sex link. She is a little overweight for her size. She would not put weight on the foot or leave the coop this morning. After getting the other ladies corralled back in the coop, I picked her up and checked her leg and foot. I found the telltale black scab that is seen with bumblefoot. However, there was absolutely NO swelling. I have never dealt with this, but I had found this article: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/236649/bumblefoot-surgery-with-pics-and-how-to and followed the instructions and photos there. I cleaned and cleaned and rinsed and rinsed and got nothing that looked like pus or cheese or a plug out of the hole. The hole was not deep and seemed to have no "feelers" going up into the pad of the foot. Once I had the scab off, it looked like just a shallow hole. I still dug around for quite some time, carefully cut in with a scalpel, etc. After I finished, even though I got nothing out, I packed the hole with polysporin and mupirocin and then covered with a sterile cotton square and vetwrap. I will check it in the morning.

Here is my question: Is it possible that I caught it early and the infection did not get a chance to set in? I am worried that I found no infection or plug. The article seemed to stress the importance of getting that out. But I had not seen mention of this with no swelling, either, so not sure if my situation was different? Maybe time will tell?
 

Runningdoe

In the Brooder
7 Years
Mar 18, 2012
28
1
24
Ohio
How is your girl doing? Did her foot heal?

This happened to me today too! One of my chickens had a big swollen toe so I looked and sure enough....bumblefoot. So I got everything I needed and I got it all cleaned out. Lots of pus and ickyness. Then I checked the rest of my girls. One had a few scabs so i thought oh poop....another one! So, I cleaned everything up and started on her. She didn't have any swelling and I debated on whether or not to even do it. I did one of her scabs and there was nothing there. She bled some. I felt terrible. Did I even need to do it? I put antibiotic cream on it and bandaged her up.
 

janinepeters

Songster
10 Years
Jun 9, 2009
906
81
153
Yikes, I kind of think people might be going overboard with surgery. Not every cut on a chicken's foot becomes infected. Just like in people, sometimes abrasions scab over and heal, with the immune system successfully fighting off whatever bacteria were present. Perhaps that was the case where there was no swelling and you didn't find any kernel or pusy, cheesy stuff.

Unfortunately, in cutting it open, you might have introduced bacteria into the wound, and should watch them carefully, in case an infection develops: you might have inadvertently caused bumblefoot. Keep the wounds very clean.

Sorry, I don't mean to criticize either of you. I know some of the threads emphasize only the surgical approach, and I guess you saw those, but not the others.

I personally would simply watch if there is a scab and no swelling. If there is a swelling, I would try TricideNeo soaks first. If the infection does not resolve with that alone, then surgery would be appropriate, either on your own, or by a vet (which would be my choice).
 
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HudokFarm

Songster
8 Years
May 6, 2011
166
4
116
Minnesota
Thanks, janinepeters, for your insight. In retrospect, I probably did not need to do the surgery, as you suggest. However, with the surgery and packing the wound with antibiotics, my hen was able to walk later in the very day I did the surgery. I did not think that starting with soaks would have had her walking fastest so I went with removing the scab and using antibiotics and a bandage to promote healing.

Today she is walking normally and is fat and happy as ever. She did manage to hurt her wing, however, so she is still not back to roosting at night.
 

Runningdoe

In the Brooder
7 Years
Mar 18, 2012
28
1
24
Ohio
Reading everything about bumblefoot and how serious it is can really scare a new chicken keeper! I know that on the one chicken it helped....her foot was very swollen. On the other chicken, I should have just left it alone. I will make sure to keep them both clean. So, the scabs can just go away on their own?
 

janinepeters

Songster
10 Years
Jun 9, 2009
906
81
153
Reading everything about bumblefoot and how serious it is can really scare a new chicken keeper! I know that on the one chicken it helped....her foot was very swollen. On the other chicken, I should have just left it alone. I will make sure to keep them both clean. So, the scabs can just go away on their own?

Yes, I don't have first hand experience with spontaneous recovery, but I read through a bunch of threads and learned that sometimes mild cases disappear on their own. If there is no swelling, it might not even be infected (and therefore, just an abrasion and not bumblefoot). If it is infected (actual bumblefoot), however, it is best to treat it, because it often does get worse, and if it does, it can be lethal, or at least disabling.

But surgery is not necessarily the best treatment in every case. The case I treated, was mild-moderate: there were 2 small scabs and 1 small-medium swelling on the pad of the foot. Not red, not hard, nor hot. The bird was limping, however. I used TricideNeo soaks with great success.

If a hard kernel has formed, surgery will be necessary, but it carries a risk: post-surgical infection. A lot of threads on bumblefoot mention recurrences after surgery. Sometimes multiple recurrences. You must be very careful to follow sterile technique while excising, and then keep the wound very clean until healed.

Some people do promote surgery in every case, but my own opinion is to go with the least invasive, least risky, and least painful effective treatment.
 

Runningdoe

In the Brooder
7 Years
Mar 18, 2012
28
1
24
Ohio
Thank you for the information. I certainly hope I didn't make it worse! I am putting vetericyn on the foot that was swollen and also on the others feet that have the black spots but no swelling. My coop is on rocks (like driveway stones) and the chickens scratch at them and get them all over the run. I am thinking that this is what is causing the sores. I just hope I can get them all healed up. I am just sick over this. :(
 

janinepeters

Songster
10 Years
Jun 9, 2009
906
81
153
My coop is on rocks (like driveway stones) and the chickens scratch at them and get them all over the run. I am thinking that this is what is causing the sores
Yes - if you have more than an occasional bird with this problem, it's important to determine and eliminate the cause, or it will likely be a never ending battle.
 

PoultryPedia

Crowing
May 25, 2008
2,131
113
291
Idaho/Utah
I have a rooster that has gotten scabby-looking callouses on soles of his feet quite regularly for much of his life. It has been caused partly by the webbing between two toes on one foot being cut, & by his being a large-size rooster. To-date, they have not included infections.

I soak his feet a couple minutes in warm water & then use toenail cutters, nippers, & scissors to cut the callouses out.
Sometimes a callous has developed to a hard ball shape by the time I notice it. The hard ball causes pain, but he has had little or no infection develop along with the callouses.
After removing a callous, I daub in Neosporin & put a small piece of folded paper towel over the hole that's left, & gently wrap the foot with strips of vet wrap. After about 4 days, I check the foot. It is best to reapply medicine then & rewrap for another 2 or so days.

If you do a second follow-up trim, be very cautious & conservative when re-trimming! This last week I went to retrim a callous I'd doctored that again was looking blackish & hard -- quite a bit like it originally had. I dove in with the scissors, & then discovered that although it looked fairly bad, it had actually healed a lot & was MUCH shallower than the original callous. By accidentally digging in too deep, I dug into the live part of the rooster's foot. I felt very bad, as did he, but it's been a few days & his foot is healing well.

Neosporin is very effective at fighting infection; & the bandage is very helpful at reducing the amount of gunk that gets stuck in the hole plus minimizing friction & pain during healing

I have also worked to modify my rooster's perches so they are low so he doesn't land hard when jumping down, have texture so he doesn't have to grasp so hard while jumping up, are wide so his feet don't slip as much, & some are padded with rubber kitchen shelf liner to improve traction plus reduce impact when jumping onto.
 
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