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Foot injury, infection, and other related disorders are common health issues in people. Some of the complications disappear after a while, while others can take a particularly long time. Individuals who don’t seek immediate medical attention for chronic cases might develop more serious conditions like cancer. Others who don’t get proper medication end up suffering later on. To get the best treatment for a foot health issue, it’s always advisable to visit a podiatry clinic. This article has all that you need to know about what is a podiatrist. Read on to learn what they are, why you might need one in the future, and other helpful information about them.
What Is A Podiatrist?
This is a doctor who specializes in treating problems in the ankles, feet, and lower legs. They can also treat the lower limbs to restore their normal function, reduce pain, and speed up healing after a surgery or an injury. These medical professionals can give prescriptions, refer a patient for physical therapy, and even perform surgeries. There are times when they can assist other health professionals in treating certain health issues.
How Does A Podiatrist Make A Diagnosis?
The first step usually involves analyzing the individual’s symptoms and medical history. Then, the podiatrist examines the foot or affected area physically. In this step, they identify skin discoloration or indications of swelling. Sometimes, a person can be asked to walk or move their toes and feet in different directions.
Depending on their findings, they may ask the person to undergo extra tests before making their final diagnosis. Some of those exams are the following:
- Blood Test: The purpose of this test is to identify infections, inflammations, or autoimmune illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Imaging Test: A podiatric performs this to check for structural problems, bone fractures, or narrow or blocked blood vessels.
- Electromyography: This measure how muscles react to nerve impulses.
- Quantitative Sensory Testing: This is the use of a specialized computer system to record how nerves respond to vibration and temperature changes.
How Are Podiatric Treatments Carried Out?
After a diagnosis, the podiatrist administers the appropriate treatment. Sometimes, there may be other specialists who’ll help them. If the condition is severe, an entire health care team is involved. Some of the treatments provided by a podiatric doctor are corrective footwear, orthotic devices, corticosteroid, and setting fractured bones. Also, these specialists can give prescriptions for antibiotics, pain relievers, and antifungals.
There are conditions that demand surgical procedures. A podiatric surgeon will perform this to fix a broken bone and treat inflammations or torn ligaments and tendons, among others. In addition, surgical procedures are necessary for correcting structural abnormalities and removing bunions.
When Do You Need To See A Podiatric Doctor?
There are numerous reasons you may need to visit a podiatrist at some point in your life. Here are the ones you’ll likely encounter:
- Prolonged Heel Pain
Persistent heel pain is common in a lot of people. In most cases, you can manage this by undergoing simple therapies. However, if it becomes unbearable such that it hinders your daily activities, it can be an indication of an underlying health issue, which could occur due to an inflammation in the tendons in your heels. The result is usually excruciating pain. When you experience that in your heels, consider visiting a foot specialist for instant remedy.
- Pain In The Ankles Or Feet
The ankles and the feet are among the hardworking parts of the body. This explains why many people experience pain in those areas from time to time. In most cases, the sensation disappears with the use of self-care methods. However, it can linger due to the following conditions:
- Nerve Damage: This may result in numbness and severe pain in your feet.
- Poor Blood Flow: This can cause your feet to swell.
- Osteoarthritis: This is a health issue that’s due to the wearing down of cartilage.
- Tight Footwear: Wearing this may lead to structural problems like deformation of toes.
- Inflammatory Arthritis: This is a health condition that results from the inflammation of one or several joints. It leads to pain and stiffness in one’s feet.
Note that it’s not easy to solve such conditions with home remedies. Therefore, when the pain in your feet or ankles refuses to go away, it’s advisable to see a foot specialist.
- Pain In An Ingrown Toenail
An ingrown toenail is a condition where the corner or the side of one’s toenail changes into soft flesh. When this happens, redness, swelling, pain, or infection may occur. Sometimes, one can manage the discomfort through home care remedies. However, if it’s severe enough to hinder your movement, it’s a good idea to see a podiatrist. This is because a thorough examination and certain tests will be necessary to diagnose the problem.
- A Fractured Bone In Your Foot
Among the signs of a broken bone in your foot is having difficulty in running, standing, or walking. You may experience severe pain you can’t control. A broken bone can lead to severe health conditions when not rectified right away. Some of those are bone infection, nerve damage, and arthritis. Therefore, when you have or suspect a broken bone in your foot, seek the help of a podiatric doctor to prevent other complications.
- Painful Bunion
A bunion is a bump that develops at the base of the big toe. When this happens, the big toe moves toward the smaller toes. A bunion results in pain and skin irritation. One of the causes of this complication is wearing tight shoes. A bunion may disappear with time, but if it doesn’t, you need to see a podiatrist. There could be a broken bone or another infection you can’t manage with self-care procedures alone.
Diabetes is usually a chronic disease. It leads to different medical issues like kidney damage, stroke, and heart attack. Worse still, diabetes may contribute to the development of foot problems and non-healing wounds. So if you’re a diabetic patient, make it a habit to visit a podiatric doctor once in a while. They’ll be able to identify the issue in no time and treat it to prevent future complications.
- Corns Or Calluses
A corn or callus is painful or thick, hard skin that forms at the base of the foot. The main cause of this condition is friction or pressure. Most individuals get rid of the problem after doing away with the source of pressure or friction, like tight shoes. However, when they corn or callus is painful to the extent that it prevents you from going about your day as usual, or if you also have diabetes, make sure to see a foot specialist for proper medication.
- Flat Feet
These exert abnormal force on your body, resulting in discomfort in the heels, feet, back, knees, and neck. Flat feet may also cause bunions and plantar fasciitis to develop and interfere with the spinal alignment. Though the condition is irreversible, there are ways to manage the pain it brings. So if you have this type of feet, a podiatrist will design special orthotics for your heels and arches.
- Nail Infection
Nail infections are common. They’re commonly triggered by toe injuries, ingrown toenails, and cracked nails, and similar issues. When one has a nail infection, the skin around the affected area becomes tender, swollen, and painful. If it lasts longer than six weeks, it’s considered chronic. If that’s the case for you, seek treatment from a foot specialist.
Hammertoe is a condition that occurs when there’s an imbalance in the ligaments, tendons, or muscles in one’s toe. The affected toe becomes painful and can be difficult to move. Sometimes, the discomfort is easily manageable. For instance, a health professional may recommend the use of shoe inserts. However, if it’s severe, turn to a foot specialist at once. They can opt to do a surgical procedure such as arthroplasty.
- Tumor In The Lower Leg
A tumor can develop in one’s lower leg due to sarcoma. Tumors have severe effects on tendons, bones, muscles, blood vessels, and cartilage nerves. If one fails to get treated properly and in a timely manner, they could develop cancer. Thus, when you notice a tumor in your lower leg, don’t hesitate to visit a podiatric doctor to have it checked.
- Foot Blisters
Blisters are fluid sacs that may develop in one’s foot. They’re also referred to as fluid pockets. When you wear tight shoes or stand or walk for a long time, you risk developing blisters. They’re usually uncomfortable and excruciating. They’ll go away if treated immediately after they appear. However, if they persist, a podiatrist is the best health professional to help you. They’ll be able to tell you whether you’re dealing with an underlying health issue.
- Lower Leg Amputation
It’s possible that all the treatments available to you won’t work for the specific health problem you’re experiencing in your lower leg. In such situations, you’re left with one option: amputation. Its main purpose is to stop infection from spreading to other body parts. A podiatric surgeon has the necessary experience and expertise to carry out this kind of procedure.
- Foot injury
If there are people with a higher risk of foot pain and injuries than others, it’s athletes. This is because they spend most of their time running, which exerts tremendous pressure on their feet. Athletes may sustain a sprain, fracture, or injury in their feet at any moment. When this happens, they can’t participate in sports within a certain period.
So if you’re an athlete experiencing foot pain or injury, head to a podiatry clinic at once. Podiatrists are the most qualified professionals to examine your foot, make an accurate diagnosis, and help you recover faster.
- Smelly Feet
One of the causes of this health condition is sweat buildup in one’s feet, resulting in bacterial growth in the skin. It can also occur due to a fungal infection. If you have this condition, it can be frustrating because people may avoid you due to the foul odor. To avoid embarrassment, consult a podiatric doctor.
This refers to bone inflammation in one’s foot. The bones that help in bending your big toe are called sesamoids. When inflamed or injured, the result is pain or discomfort. If the sensation becomes severe such that it hinders you from walking, a foot physician will be able to address the condition.
- When You Want To Start Running
A podiatric doctor isn’t necessary only when you have foot injuries or disorders. If you’re planning to start running, or you’re already a runner, a foot specialist will be able to provide you with expert tips to keep your feet safe at all times. They may advise you on the best shoes for your body and the types of sports you can involve yourself in.
Dos and Don’ts Before Visiting A Podiatrist
Prior to seeing a podiatric doctor, you need to plan for it. Doing so will help you make the most of their services. The first thing to do in preparation is to write down your symptoms and the questions you wish the doctor to answer. If you’ve undergone surgery or you’re on medication, take note of that as well. On the day of your appointment, bring your lab results and medical records about your feet.
In addition, don’t shave your legs before visiting the foot specialist. This is because hair growth in your feet and legs indicates healthy blood circulation. The podiatrist may need to examine the growth pattern to make a diagnosis.
Getting a pedicure is another thing you shouldn’t do ahead of your appointment. This is because it can expose your feet to bacterial and fungal infections. If you already have foot complications, a pedicure may only worsen the situation.
Moreover, don’t paint your nails. Although you want your feet to be appealing, nail polish can hide possible signs and symptoms of infections. Therefore, the doctor won’t be able to properly examine your nails for possible problems.
Everyone wants to stay healthy. One of the things you can do to maintain your health is to take care of your legs and feet. This is because foot injuries and related complications may interfere with your overall physical condition, which makes podiatry a highly valuable field of medicine.
In essence, podiatrists are essential health professionals. They provide surgical and medical care for individuals with lower leg, foot, or ankle problems. They have the skills and expertise to diagnose foot illnesses, treat injuries, and perform lower limb surgery. Also, the services of a podiatric doctor aren’t limited to people with existing foot problems since everyone would benefit from having their legs and feet examined on a regular basis.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions, and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of Credihealth and the editor(s).
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