Most of us know that visiting the doctor and getting regular checkups is important. But how many of us extend that knowledge all the way down to our toes by having a regular podiatrist?
What Is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is essentially an ankle and foot doctor. Your feet contain 25% of the 206 bones in your body, as well as numerous complex muscle and ligament groupings, so podiatric physicians study all of these extensively. Like all medical doctors, they go through many years of medical school, specialty school, and hospital internships. Some podiatrists keep their focus general, while others choose narrower fields (for example, sports podiatry).
What Does a Podiatrist Treat?
Predictably, an ankle and foot doctor treats most conditions associated with the ankles and feet. Some of the most common procedures and processes overseen by podiatrists are ankle injury rehab, flat foot pain assessment, bunion treatment, ingrown toenail removal, tendonitis treatment and wart removal. Podiatrists also treat 82% of patients with corns and callus problems. If you need any of these treatments, you should find a podiatrist as soon as possible.
When Should I Go to the Podiatrist?
Obviously, you should visit a podiatrist if you know you have any of the above problems. But here are three other reasons that you might not think of:
If You Have Chronic Pain
About 75% of people experience foot problems of varying severity at some point in their lives, but chronic pain is not normal. You could have arthritis, plantar fasciitis, a stress fracture or any number of other serious – but treatable – conditions. There’s absolutely no reason to just live with the pain.
If You Have Frequent Swelling or Discolouration
Swelling can be a sign of deeper problems, especially if you can’t easily connect it to a one-time cause. Having swelling in just one foot or the other is also a sign that you need to see an ankle and foot doctor as soon as possible. Also schedule an appointment if your feet or lower legs are different colours; red can indicate gout, and blue or purple can be a sign of vein problems.
If You Have Other Health Conditions
Certain other conditions, such as diabetes, increase the risk of foot and ankle problems. Some of these problems do not cause pain, so people with diabetes should visit a podiatrist for regular checkups regardless of whether they think they have a problem. Delaying a visit can lead to very serious complications that can make even amputations necessary.