If you are experiencing any kind of foot or ankle problem, it’s essential to see a podiatrist. Foot problems can be caused by anything from an ingrown toenail to diabetes. And they can have long-lasting effects if left untreated. Podiatrists are skillful in diagnosing and treating all types of foot problems, so don’t wait to schedule an appointment with one. Pay a visit to Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute.
What is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) who can diagnose and treat foot and ankle conditions. Podiatrists treat medical conditions that affect your ability to walk or perform activities of daily living, such as:
- Ingrown Toenails
- Calluses and Corns
- Hammer Toes
- Sports Injuries
Which are Common Causes of Foot and Ankle Problems?
A lot of things can cause foot and ankle problems. Some common causes are:
- Wearing shoes that don’t fit properly
- Gastrocnemius muscle strain (in the calf)
- Adult-onset flat feet, or fallen arches (flat feet)
- Peroneal tendonitis (inflammation in the peroneal tendon)
- Achilles tendonitis (inflammation in the Achilles tendon, which attaches your calf muscle to your heel)
- Soft tissue injuries, such as ankle sprains or turf toe injuries
What is a Soft Tissue Injury?
Soft tissue refers to any tissue that is not bony. It includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues. The most common soft tissue injury for athletes is a sprain. Ankle sprains are among the most frequent injuries in sports with high participation rates.
How Can Podiatrists Help?
Podiatrists are trained to diagnose and treat various foot and ankle problems. Some common treatments include:
- Foot Orthoses (custom-made inserts placed in your shoes)
- Custom-made orthopedic devices, such as walkers, braces, or splints
Is There a Need for Surgery?
If you have a severe foot and ankle condition, your podiatrist may recommend surgery. But many problems can be treated non-surgically. However, some conditions are preventable altogether with proper care and precautions. Your specialist will go for the invasive option when the conservative methods fail.
When Should I See a Podiatrist?
Podiatrists are trained to recognize the warning signs of foot and ankle problems. If you have any of the following symptoms, it’s essential to visit a podiatrist right away:
- Tingling or numbness
- Swelling, bruising, discoloration
- Change in skin color on your foot
- Difficulty moving your foot or ankle
- Intense pain when you move your foot or ankle
Orthopedic vs. Podiatric Surgery
Orthopedic surgeons primarily focus on bone and joint-related issues such as arthritis, fractures, tumors, ruptured disks, spine deformities like scoliosis, hip replacements (osteoarthritis), etc. On the other hand, podiatrists primarily focus on foot and ankle issues such as nails infections (acute or chronic), bunions (painful bony enlargement at the base of the big toe), and fractures.
Can You Take Care of Foot Problems at Home?
Some symptoms of foot problems can be relieved at home with over-the-counter medications, rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE), and pain medication. However, it is vital to see a podiatrist for the correct diagnosis and treatment. They do the proper examination, and after the treatment, you may get guidance on the measures to observe while at home.
Foot and ankle problems can be painful, but there are many ways to treat them. While you may not need surgery for many foot or ankle issues, your podiatrist will have the best resources available to diagnose what is wrong with your feet and provide the proper treatment.