Foot care is often an overlooked aspect of our overall wellness. Many people don’t consider foot aches and pains as a big enough reason to visit a specialist. However, there are many types of injuries and illnesses that can be associated with foot pain, and it should be taken seriously. Here are a few different conditions that are common and treatable by a podiatrist.
The physical effects of diabetes on the body can be painful, or the opposite: numbing. It’s common for diabetic patients to experience numbness in their extremities, including their feet. Along with numbness, tingling and burning sensations are also common.
Podiatrists are experts in foot care for diabetic patients and will help work with them on routines that will improve their foot health. Podiatrists can also prescribe medicine and physical therapy, both of which are designed to reduce foot pain, as well as numbness and other sensations associated with diabetes.
Bunions occur when abnormalities of the foot cause a large bump to appear on the big toe joint. Most common in women, bunions are often caused by wearing narrow or compressing shoes. Those with a family history of bunions are also at a greater risk for developing them. Bunions can cause tenderness on and around the big toe, pain when walking, and difficulty moving the big toe.
There are typically conservative, at-home treatments that will reduce or eliminate all symptoms of bunions, but more serious cases should be seen by a podiatrist. A podiatrist can help eliminate bunions by creating personalized shoe inserts. They can also correct bunions by performing surgery.
There are various causes for ingrown toenails, including ill-fitting shoes, cutting the nails incorrectly, or trauma to the feet. An ingrown toenail is often painful, with redness, swelling, and even drainage, indicating an infection.
There are a lot of at-home remedies to try to fix the ingrown toenail, such as warm bath soaks, clipping toenails correctly (straight across, not round), and wearing well-fitting, breathable shoes. If the ingrown toenail appears infected or is too difficult to fix at-home, a podiatrist can surgically cut out the ingrown toenail and prescribe an antibiotic for the infection.
Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of the great band of tissue that connects the bottom of the heel to the toes. It’s typically described as a sharp, stabbing pain at the bottom of the foot. The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is running, though other possible causes are age, obesity, foot shape, and standing/walking for long periods of time.
Visiting a podiatrist will help confirm that you have plantar fasciitis, and they can offer suggestions for recovery. Most cases of plantar fasciitis will resolve after resting, icing, compressing and elevating the injured area (RICE method). A podiatrist may also recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, as well as limiting running while you recover.
Along with the above conditions, podiatrists are also trained to treat many other conditions, such as fractures, tumors, and ulcers. It’s always important to do what you can to maintain proper foot care, but it should also be comforting to know that you have resources that can help you be as comfortable and pain-free as possible.