Think about your poor feet: you walk all over them, expose them to rough surfaces and weather, stuff them into shoes, and make them absorb all the impact of walking and running. Our feet take a beating every day, so it's no wonder that most of us experience foot-related injuries over the years.
This is where your local podiatrist can save you. These specialty doctors can identify any problems you have and restore those useful appendages back to full health. What specific maladies should be treated by these physicians? Let's take a look.
Foot and Ankle Pain of Every Variety
When you have a nagging pain that intensifies when you move or exercise, you may have a stress fracture. A podiatrist will give you the care you need to heal the fracture before it worsens into a full-blown broken bone.
Other aches and pains can be trickier to diagnose. Severe pain that lasts more than 24 hours can signal a broken bone, tendon problems, or infection. Burning or sudden numbness can be a sign of neuropathy, which puts you at risk for developing foot ulcers. If you have foot pain when you elevate your legs to lie down, it may be due to decreased blood flow. All of these problems are best diagnosed and treated by a specialist.
Persisting open wounds on feet or ankles can lead to a bone or skin infection. If a cut or sore doesn't heal quickly, have a specialist look at it. By the same token, visit the foot doc if you experience skin discoloration on one or both feet. This may signify gout or trouble with veins or blood flow.
Fungal infections compose another area of foot difficulties. A specialist should look at persistent athlete's foot, calluses, corns, wart, or bunions. Though you may eventually be referred to a dermatologist for treatment, the podiatrist should be your first line of defense for these issues.
Deformities and Arch Problems
As we grow older, our feet may have complications that involve spontaneous shifting of bones. This may be happen for several reasons, but regardless of the cause, it is extremely painful. If you begin to experience redness, swelling, and pain, see a podiatrist immediately – if left untreated, bones can heal in the wrong place, leading to permanent deformities and difficulty walking.
Similarly, many people experience a collapsed or flattened arch in one or both of their feet. This is a sign of tendon dysfunction, and possibly even a tendon rupture. Left untreated, tendon trouble can throw off the alignment of bones and lead to arthritis in joints. Luckily, most tendon issues can be resolved fairly easily, as long as you see a doctor shortly after noticing the problem.
As you can see, foot problems come in many shapes and sizes. They can strike at any age and often occur spontaneously. A podiatrist will help you resolve even the smallest ache or pain, ensuring that it does not evolve into a larger, more painful condition.