1. When Should I See a Podiatrist?
We all experience foot pain at some time in our lives. But when does foot pain require a trip to the podiatrist’s office?
Today we explore podiatrists’ medical training, the common conditions they treat, and when patients should make an appointment to visit one.
2. What is a podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), also known as a podiatric physician or “foot doctor.” Podiatrists evaluate, diagnose, and treat common conditions and injuries of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg.
3. What are a podiatrist’s qualifications?
Podiatrists must complete four years of medical school and three additional years of training as a resident at a hospital. With additional clinical experience and after passing a successful board examination, they may become board certified in podiatric/foot and ankle surgery.
Podiatrists specialize in a wide variety of fields such as sports medicine, pediatrics, wound care, and diabetic care. Some podiatrists also perform foot and ankle surgery depending on their training, certifications, and hospital credentials.
Some of the common surgical procedures they perform include and are not limited to bunion correction, flat foot reconstruction, fracture repairs, tendon repairs, ankle repairs, hammertoe repair, neuroma excision, and tarsal tunnel release.
These skills, combined with rigorous training and preparation, make podiatrists the best qualified doctors to care for the foot and ankle.
4. Why do I need a podiatrist?
Some foot or ankle pain resolves quickly with basic at-home remedies like rest, icing, elevation, or over-the-counter medication. When these options fail to relieve the pain in a day or two, it’s time to consult a podiatrist.
Patients who participate in high-impact activities such as ballet dancing, running, walking, and sports such a soccer, tennis will benefit from a podiatrist’s expertise in the prevention and treatment of lower extremity athletic injuries including sprains, fractures, tendinitis, and plantar fasciitis.
Anyone who notices redness, swelling, increased warmth, or a change in the shape or appearance of the feet, skin, or toenails should make a podiatrist appointment right away.
In addition, a podiatrist should check any unusual bumps, lumps, moles, cysts, or tumors on the feet or ankles. Often these growths are harmless, but sometimes they’re a sign of life-threatening cancer.
Diabetics who experience numbness in their legs may not realize when they injure their feet due to loss of feeling. If undetected and untreated, these injuries can lead to serious complications. All diabetics (or anyone with decreased sensation in their legs) should have a podiatrist check any ankle or foot problem immediately.
In any patient, foot wounds may become serious very quickly. Diabetics are especially at high risk. It is common for diabetics who don’t seek care promptly to develop severe infections or gangrene, leading to amputation of a toe, a portion of the foot, or even the whole leg.
5. What conditions do podiatrists treat?
Consult a podiatrist if you experience any of the following symptoms.
Pain may be the result of:
- Broken bones
- Heel spurs
- Ingrown toenails
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
- Wounds or sores that will not heal
Unusual growths may be:
- Corns or calluses
- Heel spurs
- Neuromas (benign tumors)
Color changes such as redness, a blue/purple color, or paleness could indicate:
- Decreased blood flow
- Vein problems
Skin irritation could indicate:
- Athlete’s foot
- Diabetic ulcers
Numbness, burning, or tingling might mean:
- Neuropathy (reduced sensation)
Changes in the shape of your foot or ankle may point to:
- Flat feet
- Muscle or joint problems
Patients often regret waiting longer than they should have to visit the podiatrist’s office. Delaying treatment can result in unnecessary discomfort. Calling the podiatrist’s office promptly for an appointment is the best way to avoid unnecessary pain and complications.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, give us a call today at 410-560-2777 or fill out the form on the top right of this page.
Click here to learn more about Dr. Jordan Stewart and the Timonium Foot and Ankle Center.