You’re experiencing some difficulty with your foot or ankle. Maybe it’s something that seems simple, like an ingrown toenail that’s giving you trouble. Or perhaps it’s something a little more serious, like a running injury or a diabetes-related foot issue. If you’re in search of medical help, a podiatrist can assess your condition and develop a treatment plan. Podiatrists treat a wide range of foot, ankle, and lower leg issues. The caring team at Island Foot Clinics, with locations throughout British Columbia is well equipped to handle all of your foot and lower leg health issues.
What Is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist, sometimes fondly referred to as a foot doctor, is a medical specialist who has been trained to address medical issues in your lower extremities. They can address injuries as well as ongoing or chronic issues. Foot doctors are capable of resetting broken bones, ordering lab tests and X-rays, and prescribing medications. Some podiatrists even perform surgery when it’s needed.
Going into podiatric medicine requires four years of medical school with a focus on the bones and muscles in the foot and ankle. After completing this academic program, candidates go through a three-year residency program in a hospital or another professional medical setting. Some students continue on to get advanced certifications, such as sports medicine or foot and ankle surgery. Once they have completed training, foot doctors usually have a DPM after their name, which stands for doctor of podiatric medicine.
What Conditions Can a Podiatrist Treat?
Foot doctors comprehensively treat foot and ankle problems ranging from toenail issues to fractured bones. Here are just a few of the conditions they treat:
A bunion is a type of bony bump that forms at the joint where the big toe connects to the foot. Tight shoes and arthritis are among the causes of bunions, which can cause stiffness, bone deformities, and in some cases, difficulty walking.
A hammertoe, which often impacts the toe beside the big toe, is a condition in which the toe has an unnatural bend in the middle. This condition causes stiffness in the toe and leaves it prone to calluses and corns.
Sometimes the toenails become infected or ingrown. Foot doctors can address and treat toenail problems and may prescribe a topical ointment.
Foot Sprains and Fractures
Foot sprains and fractures, which often result from a fall or an accident, are one of the more common injuries addressed in podiatric medicine. When working with athletes and others who spend a lot of time on their feet, foot doctors may be able to provide recommendations on how to avoid these types of injuries.
Athlete’s foot is another very common condition that foot doctors often help with. This is a fungal infection that can develop on the skin of the foot, often between the toes. Antifungal medications are commonly prescribed and can easily address this condition.
Issues With Growing Feet
Sometimes children encounter issues with their feet as they grow. If you’ve noticed that your child’s foot points inward or their toes don’t seem to line up properly, a podiatric consultation may be a good idea. Exercises, braces, or special shoe inserts are all things that may be prescribed by a foot doctor to address problems with growing feet.
In patients who have flat feet, the bottom of the foot almost entirely meets the ground when the individual is standing. For some patients, this condition presents very little difficulty. Other patients with flat feet struggle with the condition.
Heel problems can come from any number of issues with the heel. Heel spurs, which are the result of calcium building up at the base of the heel bone, and plantar fasciitis, a type of tissue inflammation on the bottom of the foot, are two common heel problems. Ill-fitting shoes and certain repetitive athletic activities can contribute to both of these conditions. Achilles tendinitis, which affects the tendon at the rear of the heel, is another common condition that requires treatment by a foot doctor.
Diabetes-Related Foot Issues
Diabetes can sometimes damage nerves in the feet and legs, making it more difficult for blood to circulate to the feet. That lack of circulation can cause a host of foot problems, and a foot doctor can help manage that condition.
Arthritis, which causes swelling and inflammation in the joints, can be particularly troublesome in the feet. Each foot has more than 30 joints, so arthritis can sometimes interfere with the foot’s natural function. If you’re experiencing arthritic difficulty with your foot, a foot doctor may be able to design a treatment plan that includes shoe inserts, prescription medication, or physical therapy.
What Types of Patients Seek Out Podiatric Care?
Anyone who has foot, ankle, or heel problems can visit a foot doctor for assessment and care. Many of our patients are senior citizens dealing with age-related foot problems. Athletes and those who lead active lifestyles also frequently seek out podiatric care. While some patients visit a foot doctor to have a specific injury or illness addressed, others rely on podiatrists for general wellness purposes and for ongoing care and management of long-term conditions.
Are There Certain Signs I Should Seek Out Foot Care?
Foot and ankle discomfort, and problems with mobility or foot function, are probably the surest sign that you should schedule an appointment with a foot doctor. Even if you aren’t experiencing difficulty with your foot, it might be a good idea to seek out a foot doctor if your toenails have become thick or discolored, if you have wart-like growths on your feet, or if the skin on your foot has begun to peel or crack.
What Can I Expect From a Visit to the Foot Doctor?
A podiatry visit is nothing to worry about. In fact, it’s not all that different than a visit to any other doctor. The foot doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and any medications you’re taking and will try to develop a sense of your overall health. Your doctor may watch how you walk, test the mobility of your joints, and look at how your shoes fit you. If you’re just there for a routine foot wellness check, any warts, calluses, or toenail issues may be addressed. If you’ve scheduled the appointment because of a specific injury or concern, that issue will also be assessed and diagnosed.
Will I Need Surgery?
Depending on the particular foot issue a patient is dealing with, surgery may sometimes be recommended. But we try first to address the problem through orthotics, physical therapy, and other noninvasive treatments.
Take a Step Toward Better Foot Health
Are you concerned about some aspect of your foot or ankle? Do you have an ongoing medical condition like Diabetes that requires you to treat your feet with a little extra care? Scheduling an appointment with a podiatrist is a great way to ensure the health of your feet, ankles, and lower legs. A foot doctor can treat a wide range of conditions and can help keep your feet in tip-top shape. Call today and schedule an appointment at Island Foot Clinics with locations in Victoria, Nanaimo, and Kelowna, Canada.