What is Podiatry?
A podiatrist is a medical Doctor that specializes in the branch of medicine devoted to the study, health, diagnosis and treatment of foot, ankle and lower leg disorders. Foot problems can affect everyone, from the inactive to athletes, and depending on how you walk or run may cause referred pain across other joints and the lower back. Foot problems may also arise as the consequence of one of the many systemic diseases such as diabetes, kidney problems, arthritis, anemia and circulatory disorders.
Sometimes foot problems can be managed personally at home with heat, ice and rest, but when no relief can be found, it may be time for a trip to the podiatrist. Read on for more information on common reasons to see your local Podiatrist.
Pain in the lower leg, foot and ankle can result from a number of conditions. These include:
- Blisters, which may be aggravated by skin friction against shoes.
- Bunions that may become sore and swollen due to misaligned big toe joints and shoe aggravation.
- Heel pain, felt particularly when there is too much stress on the heel bone.
- Heel spurs, which are growths of bone under the heel bone, which may or may not cause pain.
- Broken bones and wounds.
- Swelling, otherwise known as an edema.
Discoloration & Skin Irritations
Feet should normally look the same in colour. A difference may indicate a problem such as:
- Vein problems (especially if the foot is blur or purple in colour)
- Decreased, inadequate blood flow (indicated by a paleness in colour)
A Podiatrist should also attend to skin irritations such as Athletes Foot. This is a fungal skin disease that starts at the bottom of the feet or between the toes, and may spread to the rest of the body if left untreated. Symptoms include:
- Dry, scaly skin
These symptoms may indicate neuropathy, which causes reduced sensation in the feet. It may be caused by conditions such as Diabetes and needs to be regularly monitored by a Podiatrist.
Growths of the feet and toes come in all shapes and sizes and may produce pain along with other unpleasant side effects. Some of these growths may include:
- Blisters: these are small pockets of fluid-filled skin caused by forceful rubbing or friction.
- Bunions: these deformities causes by misaligned big toe joints.
- Corns and calluses: these protective layers of compacted, dead skin cells are caused by repeated pressure/friction of the shoes against the skin of bony areas on the foot.
- Heel spurs: growths found generally underneath the heel bone.
- Neuromas: often found between the third and fourth toes, these are enlarged, benign growths of nerves.
- Warts: usually harmless and benign, these growths come from a virus and may prove painful and unsightly.
Flattened Arches and Other Changes to the Foot's Shape
Flattened arches of the foot, otherwise known as “flat feet”, may indicate ruptured or dysfunctional tendons. When these tendons do not function adequately, the bones become misaligned and ultimately cause arthritis in the joints.
Muscle imbalances in the foot may also cause structural changes that result in painful conditions such as Hammertoe. This condition causes the toes to curl up in a claw-like position, and most frequently affects the second toe. Pressure on the toes should be avoided as much as possible, as well as poorly fitted shoes and socks. Your podiatrist will be able to assess whether or not surgery is required or not.
Find a podiatrist in your local area.Originally published on Apr 08, 2010