The medical branch of podiatry is focused on treating disorders of the feet, ankles and lower legs. While many people experience pain in these parts of the body from time to time, people are often unsure when to seek medical care. Continue reading to learn five situations where prompt care from a podiatrist is necessary.
From issues with toenails to joint problems and chronic pain, there are many conditions for which patients may see a podiatrist.
Often a result of tight-fitting footwear, improperly cut toenails or injury, ingrown toenails happen when the side of the nail starts to grow into the adjacent skin. If the area is swelling, releasing pus or causing extreme pain, the patient should visit a podiatrist to remove the ingrown section of the nail. If not treated promptly, the site can become infected.
Nail fungus is one of the more common conditions people seek podiatry for, especially as nail salons have become more popular. Public swimming pools or communal showers are also common places where people are exposed to the fungus. The growth often starts as a discolored spot under the tip or the base of the nail and progresses slowly. Over time, the entire nail may thicken and become yellow. Depending on the type of fungus, there may be white powder on the top of the nails, or the toenail may start to raise up. Athlete’s foot, diseases that affect the immune system and repetitive trauma all make a person more susceptible to this condition.
Even if an ankle sprain seems minor, the joint can become permanently damaged if not healed correctly. When a sprain occurs, the ligaments in the ankle stretch and tear, which can hinder a person’s stability and lead to future ankle injuries. Prompt treatment from a podiatrist helps correct the damage. Treatments may include icing the ankle, taking anti-inflammatory medication, using a brace or crutches and elevating the joint.
While many people who have flat feet simply never develop arches during childhood, some may experience this issue due to an injury or the weakening of the tendon that supports the arch. If the condition is causing the individual pain, a podiatrist may suggest the use of an orthotic device and supportive shoes. Physical therapy and stretching the Achilles tendon may help relieve pain.
There are several types of arthritis that can affect the foot:
The location and level of pain the patient feels depends on the types of arthritis. Podiatry treatments often address pain management and may include shoe inserts, medication and physical therapy. In some cases, the podiatrist may suggest surgery.
If you are unsure whether a foot or lower limb condition is severe enough to visit a podiatrist, it is a good idea to play it safe and schedule a visit. If any issues are present, getting prompt care can minimize pain and prevent more serious problems from occurring.
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