Even though our feet are so essential for proper mobility, most of us tend to ignore them until they start to hurt. Ignoring foot problems is not a good idea as it can make the problem harder to treat later. Many foot problems can be treated by your primary care provider. However due to the complexity of some foot problems, they may need treatment by a podiatrist, a physician who specializes in the foot and ankle. Podiatrists can help you with all manner of foot issues, from flat feet to hammer toes. So if you have pain or discomfort in the foot – don’t ignore it! Your podiatrist has the skills and expertise to help get you moving properly again.
Here are some key reasons to see a podiatrist:
When the nail on your toe grows into the skin, it causes an ingrown toenail. Beside the pain, redness and swelling, ingrown toenails can become infected so it’s important to get treatment quickly. Treatment for ingrown toenails can be either non-surgical or surgical.
These bony bumps form on the joint at the base of the big toe. They can be painful and will sometime require surgical correction. Smaller bunions (called bunionettes) can also develop on the joint of the little toes. Your podiatrist can identify the cause of the bunion and rate its severity. There are different treatment options for bunions, including non-surgical and surgical treatment.
A common problem, toenail fungus likes to live in warm, moist areas. The most common sign of toenail fungus is a yellow or brownish discoloration of the nail. There are over-the-counter treatments available for toenail fungus but they are not always successful. Your podiatrist can prescribe more effective treatments for this condition.
People with flat feet (also known as fallen arches) often have pain in the feet, heels, hips, knees and back. Flat feet can lead to other problems such as bunions and plantar fasciitis, so it’s best to treat the problem as early as possible. Orthotics are most often used to correct flat feet and can provide significant pain relief.
If your heels and/or the bottom of your feet are sore and painful, it could be plantar fasciitis. This condition, named for the thick band of tissue that runs underneath the foot called the plantar fascia, is best diagnosed by a podiatrist. There are a number of effective treatments, from stretching exercises to custom orthotics, to help those suffering from plantar fasciitis.
Numbness or Swelling
If you have numbness or swelling in the feet it could be a sign of a serious problem such as a broken bone, tendonitis, or an infection. Your podiatrist will diagnose what is causing the numbness and swelling through a physical exam and/or diagnostic imaging and then come up with a treatment plan.
This condition occurs on the second, third, or fourth toe causing it to be permanently bent, resembling a hammer. Hammertoes usually start out as mild deformities and get progressively worse over time. Conservative treatment can be used to treat hammertoes but in more severe or longstanding cases surgery may be required.
A Wound or Sore That Doesn’t Heal
It’s important to take seriously any open sore on your foot – especially if you are a diabetic. Any untreated lesion or ulcer on the foot can become infected quickly. A skin or bone infection can be a very serious medical issue, so never delay seeking treatment.
Chances are, most of us will have a foot problem at some point in our life. However, there’s no reason to live with pain or discomfort. Your podiatrist can help get you moving again. Remember that seeking care early will make treatment easier for you in the long run.
About Henry Henczel, DPM
A graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Henry Henczel is one of the few podiatrists in the country who completed four years of Podiatric postgraduate surgical training. He has been a practicing podiatrist for more than six years and his clinical interests include; elective foot surgery, trauma surgery of the foot and diabetic foot salvage and reconstruction. A visit to his...View profile View posts by this doctor