A foot specialist, also known as a podiatrist, is a type of physician trained to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the feet, ankles and lower legs. Podiatrists can use a wide variety of diagnostic tools, such as blood tests and magnetic resonance imaging tests, to identify any issues with a patient’s foot. Additionally, these physicians can use different types of noninvasive and surgical treatments depending on the patient’s needs.
While the full list of conditions a podiatrist is qualified to treat is lengthy, here are four common problems many patients make a visit for.
Patients who are dealing with an infection due to fungus growth in the toenails or an ingrown nail can visit a podiatrist for help. A foot specialist can tell if an individual has nail fungus by examining the toenail for abnormal thickness or discoloration and testing a sample from underneath the nail. The most common treatment for fungus includes a topic cream or oral medication.
Additionally, it is common for people to get ingrown toenails, which causes the side of the nail to grow into the skin of the toe, resulting in pain and swelling at the site. A minor ingrown toenail can often be treated by a 20 minute soak in warm water, but more serious cases might require minor surgery.
Arthritis of the foot or ankle involves inflamed joints that can cause pain and stiffness in the body. Depending on the type and severity of the arthritis, some people might even struggle to walk or perform regular everyday activities. Common types of foot arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, gout and osteoarthritis. Although the condition is incurable, a podiatrist can help patients with managing pain and regaining function using a variety of nonsurgical and surgical treatments.
Whenever a person sprains or fractures an ankle or toe, a foot specialist can treat the injury. While the exact medical treatment varies depending on the extent of the damage, often a splint or cast is used to help the area heal. Podiatrists can also help monitor people's feet and ankles and recommend ways to avoid injuries in the first place. For this reason, many of these doctors work in sports medicine.
It is often recommended that any individual diagnosed with diabetes should visit a podiatrist. In addition to affecting other parts of the body, diabetes can cause swelling or numbness in the feet and a variety of other symptoms including open sores, calluses and cracking. This is due to the fact that the condition can damage nerves and lessen blood flow to the feet. Seeing a foot specialist for regular checkups and taking good care of feet can prevent a lower limb amputation.
There are many way a foot specialist can help an individual with common foot disorders. From skin and nail conditions to sudden sports injuries, these doctors are qualified to treat a wide variety of issues.
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