From everyday scuff-ups to chronic diseases, here are some situations where it might be useful to consult an expert.
Bunions are unsightly bulges at the big toe’s base that are caused when the bone or joint is out of place. If left untreated, they can become more and more irritating and painful, interfering with footwear and leading to greater injury. A podiatry specialist can provide a treatment plan such as wrapping and padding, or in extreme cases, perform surgery to remove the bunion.
A scarlet toe with a lot of fluid drainage may indicate infection from an ingrown toenail, which is when part of the nail grows into the tissue of the toe. A podiatrist can provide treatment, prescribe antibiotics, and if needed, remove a portion or the entire offending nail.
Although sometimes treatable with over-the-counter medication, this common fungal infection on the bottom of the feet and/or between the toes can become severely itchy and painful. It causes dry, scaly skin and possibly even oozing cracks. If it refuses to go away, it’s time to see a podiatry specialist. Prescription creams and pills are usually effective though antibiotics may help in certain cases.
Sprains and Strains
Swelling, redness, and pain following a foot or ankle injury are indications that there might be a sprain, stretch, or tear in a ligament or muscle. See a podiatry expert if after three days the pain and swelling have not decreased, and it remains difficult to walk. He or she can make a cast for the particular area of the foot or leg and advise on home care. In severe cases, the podiatrist may have to perform surgery.
Joint pain in the feet or ankles might be caused by arthritis, a catch-all name for ailments that restrict mobility and cause minimal-to-crippling discomfort in the joints. Although most forms of the disease are not curable, a podiatrist can help with foot/ankle arthritis by offering advice on ways to minimize the pain, maximize joint movement, and continue to pursue work and hobbies with as little pain as possible. It’s important to see a specialist when it comes to arthritis. Over time, this condition can change the functionality of the area it affects and cause permanent damage.
People with diabetes are at the top of the list of those who would benefit from regular check-ups with a podiatry specialist. In fact, an annual ankle/foot examination is advised. Diabetes patients suffer from much higher rates of foot problems, ranging from pesky dry skin to amputation. The latter is so common among people with diabetes because they often have peripheral arterial disease, which limits blood flow to the feet, and nerve damage, which limits foot feeling. Together, they’re a deadly combo that allows normally harmless phenomena like ulcers to get severely infected faster and without being noticed until it’s too late.