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 temporary, or acute pain.
A podiatrist is a doctor that specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of foot and ankle-related conditions and injuries.
You're like to get a speedier diagnosis and treatment recommendation from a podiatrist.
Podiatrists provide a wide range of medical care for problems of the foot, ankle and lower leg. They diagnose and treat illnesses and perform surgery.
Here are the 10 reasons to see a podiatrist to get you back on your feet again.
1. You're starting to run regularly - Runners are especially prone to aches and pains like shin splints. A podiatrist can assess your body and feet to flag potential problems and recommend strategies to avoid them. They can also recommend the best type of athletic shoe for your foot.
2. You have diabetes - Diabetes makes you significantly more prone to foot problems. These issues can range from dry skin to serious infections. Diabetics are more prone also to losing sensation in their feet and developing ulcers and wounds that can cause these infections. You should have a foot exam performed by a doctor or podiatrist at least once a year. Having a podiatrist as part of your healthcare team lowers the risk of amputations due to diabetes by more than 50%, studies show.
3. You feel joint pain in your feet or ankles - Arthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting Americans today. Arthritis can change the way the feet function and lead to disability. If the joints in your feet are often swollen, red, stiff, or tender, see a podiatrist. A podiatrist can suggest treatments that may preserve joint health and make it easier for you to carry out your daily activities.
4. Heel pain is limiting your activities - There are many causes of heel pain. You may have a bony growth on the heel known as a heel spur. Or possibly one of the tendons that connects to the heel may be inflamed. If you have persistent heel pain, see a podiatrist for a diagnosis. They will perform a foot exam and may take X-rays to find a proper diagnosis which is the first step toward developing a treatment plan.
5. You suspect a sprain, strain or broken bone - Podiatrists are experts at treating sprains, strains, and broken bones in the foot and ankle. They can also diagnose your injury and suggest treatment. A podiatrist can also create a flexible cast to help the area heal. Swelling, trouble walking, redness, and increasing pain following an injury are all reasons to go to a podiatrist.
6. You have a stubborn ingrown toenail - When a toenail grows into the skin, the ingrown nail can cause an infection. Ingrown toenails most often affect the big toe. If a toenail 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 medicine if the area is infected and come up with a strategy to further prevent it from coming back.
7. You need foot surgery - Surgery is often the last treatment a podiatrist recommends for many foot conditions. If you should need it, podiatrists can perform surgery on the foot and ankle. Conditions that may require surgery include bunions, recurring ingrown toenails, and broken bones.
8. You have bothersome corn or callus - Corns and calluses are some of the most common reasons people visit a podiatrist. These areas of built-up skin can be painful if they get too thick to walk on. Sometimes reducing their sizes using a surgical blade is another option. The procedure isn't painful because the skin is dead. A podiatrist may recommend cortisone injections to reduce the pain.
9. You think you have athlete's foot - and it isn't going away - The fungal infection known as athlete's foot can make the skin between your toes look scaly and feel itchy. Over-the-counter antifungal cream may help. However, if the infection doesn't seem to improve after a couple of weeks, visit a podiatrist. Oral cream-based prescription medicines are often more effective. Your doctor may also check for signs of a bacterial infection, which requires antibiotics.
10. You have a painful bunion - A bump at the base of the big toe is known as a bunion. It occurs when the bone or joint of the big toe is out of place. Bunions tend to get worse unless they are treated. A podiatrist can suggest treatments, such as padding, taping, or medication. Surgy is also an option in several cases.