Foot and ankle problems can be due to chronic medical conditions like arthritis or diabetes, but even everyday situations, such as overuse or poorly fitting shoes, can lead to foot pain. A podiatrist is a doctor that specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of foot and ankle related conditions and injuries. Podiatrists provide a wide range of medical care for problems of the foot, and ankle. They diagnose and treat illnesses and perform surgery. The following are ten reasons why you should see a podiatrist:
1. You Have Diabetes
Diabetes makes you significantly more prone to foot problems. Diabetics are more prone to losing sensation in their feet and developing ulcers and wounds that can cause infections. If you have diabetes, you should have a foot exam performed by a podiatrist at least once a year. According to studies, having a podiatrist as part of your healthcare team can significantly lower the risk of amputation due to complications from diabetes.
2. Heel Pain
There are many causes of heel pain. You may have a bony growth on the heel known as a heel spur. On the other hand, one of the tendons that connects to the heel may be inflamed. If you have persistent heel pain, see a podiatrist for a diagnosis. A proper diagnosis is the first step toward developing a treatment plan.
3. Ingrown Toenail
When a toenail grows into the skin, the ingrown nail may cause an infection. Ingrown toenails most often affect the big toe. If your toe is very red or has lots of drainage, visit a podiatrist for treatment. In some cases, the doctor will remove part of the nail. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if the area is infected, and discuss strategies to prevent an ingrown nail from coming back.
4. Walking or Running for Exercise
People who are active or play sports are especially prone to foot or ankle injuries or conditions. Runners are especially prone to aches and pains like shin splints and other issues. A podiatrist can assess your feet to flag potential problems and recommend strategies to avoid them. He or she can also recommend the best type of athletic shoe for your foot type.
5. Feeling Pain in Your Feet or Ankles
Arthritis is a condition that affects the long-term health and function of joints. Arthritis cause swollen, red, stiff or tender joints in your feet. Arthritis can change the way the feet function and lead to disability. A podiatrist can suggest treatments that may preserve joint health and make it easier for you to carry out your daily activities.
6. Trauma to Your Foot or Ankle
Podiatrists are experts at treating sprains, strains, and broken bones in the foot or the ankle. They can diagnose your injury and suggest treatment. Swelling, trouble walking, redness, and increasing pain following an injury are all reasons to visit a podiatrist.
7. You Need Foot Surgery
Surgery is often the last treatment a podiatrist recommends for many foot conditions. Podiatrists perform surgery for various types of foot problems. Conditions that may require surgery include bunions, contracted toes (Hammertoes), recurring ingrown toenails, and broken bones.
8. Corns or Calluses
Corns and calluses are some of the most common reasons people visit a podiatrist. These areas of built up skin are painful, like walking on a pebble. Often, your doctor will reduce their size using a surgical blade. A podiatrist may recommend properly fitted shoes as well as padding and skin softener to prevent corns and calluses.
9. Painful Bunion
A bunion is a bump at the base of the big toe. This condition occurs when the bones or joints of the big toe have shifted and now they are out of place. Bunions tend to get worse unless they are treated. A podiatrist can suggest treatments, such as padding, taping or medication. Surgery is also an option in severe cases.
10. Itching in the Foot that will not go Away
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that can make the skin on the bottom of your feet scaly, and between your toes look raw and feel itchy. Over-the-counter antifungal cream may help. If the infection does not seem to improve after a couple of weeks, visit a podiatrist. Oral antifungals and cream-based prescription medicines are more effective.
Podiatrist also diagnose and treat many other foot and ankle conditions. Not many people consider going to a podiatrist until they have a serious foot or ankle condition. While many people typically overlook their feet, podiatric care has proven to play a key role in prevention and management of chronic disease, increasing mobility and improving quality of life.