Foot Care: When You Should See a Podiatrist

While working for a podiatrist I discovered that a lot of people didn’t know when to visit a podiatrist, and a lot of the patients coming in to see one had waited much longer than they needed to before seeing one. Pretty much any pain in the foot, whether it be muscular or skeletal, can be effectively treated and possibly alleviated by a podiatrist. Its always important to keep a list of of medications you are taking, your insurance card, and a photo I.D. when you go in to make an office visit.

1. Heel pain

Any kind of pain in the heel needs to be seen by a podiatrist. This is an area where it is very important to be sure what kind of pain is occurring and when. An x-ray will probably be taken to rule out the possibility of bone spurs, gout crystals, and other injuries.

2. Discolored or yellow toenails

Usually this is a type of fungus of the nail which can be very easily treated with topical ointments, and in severe cases oral medications which are monitored by the podiatrist. Even if you don’t think your toenails are bad enough, it is still worth it to come in to see a podiatrist and get educated about proper foot care, and possibly alleviate the yellowing. You’ll have to take your socks and shoes off, and ointment could be applied so wear socks. Any toenail polish applied to a fungal nail will actually increase the growth of the fungus, and will be removed and discouraged until the fungus disappears.

3. Ingrown toenails

This is a condition in which the nail, either by curvature or skin growth, actually grows into the skin and creates a very painful border to a toenail. It can occur on any toenail of the foot, and can get very infected very fast so its very important to see a doctor if you feel like the ingrown toenail is getting worse. The toenail will probably be scrubbed with cleaning solution, and depending on the severity and pain around the nail, the podiatrist can numb up your toe to remove it. There are many different solutions that are less invasive, but it is extremely important to see a doctor if you suspect you have an ingrown toenail.

4. Soreness in toes

Any soreness in the toes could account for any number of injuries or conditions that the podiatrist would need to evaluate in the office or clinic. Pads, arch supports, and insoles can be fitted to your shoes to alleviate any type of pain.

5. Pain in the pad of the foot

With any type of pain in the foot, a podiatrist should be seen to evaluate what is causing the pain, and to review treatment options. Night splints, shoe pads, arch supports, and padded insoles can all alleviate types of pad pain, but it is necessary to have the podiatrist evaluate and fit you for them.

6. Open sores

Especially if you’re diabetic, an open sore that won’t heel definitely needs to be seen by the podiatrist because they can swab the sore to find out the type of bacteria, and also prescribe some antibiotics. With sores, especially on the feet, it is definitely important to catch it early and go see the doctor before it gets worse. Letting a sore or lesion go untreated can be dangerous to your overall health, and infection can travel fast in an area like the foot where people often lose sensation.

7. Discomfort with toenails

If you have problems reaching your own toenails, or have trouble trimming them properly to ensure that you don’t get ingrown, the podiatrist can always trim them for you. They can also teach you techniques to prevent these injuries in the future. If you’re diabetic, oftentimes you get your foot care paid for by your insurance.

8. Hammer toes

This is a condition in which the second toe or other toes is buckled up at the second joint often causing pressure sores on the pad of the hammer toe, and pain for the patient. It can be treated with certain pads and insoles, and in severe cases can be operated on to ease the pain in the long term.

9. Bunions

Bunions are a very serious foot condition in which there is a structural deformity of the bones in the foot and the joint that is between the foot and big toe which can sometimes be swollen and irritated at the base of the big toe. Sometimes it is painful and can cause the gait of the patient to be crooked, and always needs to be treated and cared for by a podiatrist.

10. Any irritation or discomfort on the bottom of the foot

This can be a sign that your insoles, arch supports, or paddings may be inefficient or need to be altered. A podiatrist will definitely know the weight bearing bones in the foot, and be able to see the places where the foot is being strained and rubbed in worn areas, then can provide the proper treatments to help.

11. If you have pain while walking or at night while sleeping

This can often represent a number of tendon problems in the foot as well as a couple conditions in your muscular or skeletal structure. Night splints, foot padding, and other treatments should be available upon the consultation period with the podiatrist.

12. If you have a gout flare up

These flare ups are usually very painful, and cause lots of irritation and stiffness in the joints of the patient. Usually a diet list the doctor can provide will need to be followed to avoid a flare up in the future, and tests can be performed to measure the uric acid of the patient to determine how bad the gout has gotten. An injection can often alleviate the immediate conditions, but further instructions like lifting the feet for the crystals to flow out of the bottom most part of the body need to be followed upon consultation of the doctor.

13. Any abnormal swelling or numbness.

Either one of those symptoms can be signs of an underlying condition that will need to be diagnosed and treated by the podiatrist. Often when you have stepped on something unknowingly, it can become infected and start to swell. Since we don’t get good looks at our feet very much, an infection can go unnoticed and get worse enough to require antibiotics. It is always a safe bet to come in to see the podiatrist to diagnose and treat a problem before it gets worse.

These are just a few helpful guidelines to help the general public know what a podiatrist treats, and some simple ways big problems with feet can be fixed. Its often the waiting to go to the doctor that causes some very treatable conditions to get worse. So if you are having any abnormal feelings concerning any kind of pain or irritation with your foot its always a good idea to go see your local podiatrist.

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