A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine who specializes in the medical and surgical treatment of foot and ankle problems. The podiatrist trains in all facets of foot and ankle care, including trauma, reconstructive therapy, diabetic foot problems, and sports injuries. Some of the more common problems treated by podiatrists include bunions, toenail issues, and diseases (e.g., ingrown, fungus), bone spurs, hammertoes, fractures, and heel pain.
WHAT TYPES OF TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE?
A bunion is a bony bump on the joint of the side of the big toe. It is caused by the joint of the big toe pressing against the next toe, forcing the joint to become larger and more prominent. Over time, the joint can become painful, red, and swollen. Bunions are caused by wearing tight or inappropriate footwear, because of a structural defect in your foot, or arthritis. Bunions can also develop on the outside of the joint of the little toe, but these are less common.
Signs of a bunion include:
- A large lump at the base of your big toe joint
- Swelling, soreness, and redness in that area
- Calluses around the joint
- Stiffness or inhibited movement of the big toe
You should see a podiatric physician if you experience:
- Severe pain
- A large bump on your big toe
- Decreased or loss of ability to move your big toe
- Difficulty finding comfortable shoes or an inability to wear shoes
Hammertoes are joints on the little toes that bend at an unnatural angle. Hammertoes may allow the toe to flex or keep the toe from turning. Hammertoes are often found on women who wear high-heels, those suffering joint or nerve injury from stroke or diabetes, or people with certain medical disorders. You may notice that it is hard or painful to move the toe, or you may see thick, tough calluses and bumps forming along the toe.
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the above symptoms from a bunion or hammertoe, make an appointment with one of our board-certified podiatric physicians today.
Ingrown toenails are very common and characterized by a section of the toenail, usually on the big toe, that has irregularly grown into the soft tissue surrounding the nail. Ingrown toenails can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons ranging from poor nail care to medical conditions such as diabetes.
Symptoms that your ingrown toenail should be seen by a doctor include:
- Pain or redness around the toenail
- Swelling of the toe
- If you suspect an infection
Athletic or sports-related tendon injuries are common in the feet and ankles. Running, twisting the foot and ankle, and hard impacts are most often to blame. Common injuries range from twisted or sprained ankles, stress fractures or breaks in the bones of the foot, and Achilles injuries.
Stress fractures and shin splints are brakes in the bones of the feet, ankles, or shins. These are often small, hairline fractures that are caused by repeated impact. Runners often get stress fractures on the tops of their feet, where shoelaces put pressure on the bones. Runners are not the only people to experience stress fractures as they can occur anywhere in the foot or ankle for a variety of reasons, sometimes related to soft bones as we age or improper footwear.
An injury to the Achilles tendon is often classified as Achilles tendonitis and is caused by an overuse of a band of tight tissue that connects the muscle at the back of the leg to the bone of the heel. Achilles injuries most often seen in long-distance runners or those increasing the duration and intensity of their runs due to training.
Ankle dislocation is a result of high-impact trauma that affects the tendons in the ankle. Dislocation is often a result of car accidents or sports injuries from jumping actions. The force of the impact forces or stretches the ankle into an unnatural position.
Your feet are probably the most overlooked part of your body. As you exercise or participate in sports, pay close attention to what your feet and ankles are telling you.