A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of foot and ankle problems. If you suffer from certain medical conditions, you may need to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist to receive treatment that a primary doctor isn’t able to provide. You shouldn’t ignore discomfort in your lower leg, foot, ankle or toes. Consider the following when determining whether you need to see a podiatrist.

Diabetic foot doctor at work helping a patient

Diabetics Need to See a Podiatrist Regularly 

Diabetic foot problems are common due to poor circulation and numbness that often accompany the nerve damage diabetes causes. A diabetic might be less aware of issues with their feet because of reduced pain perception. If you have diabetes, you should schedule a yearly appointment with a podiatrist to review your medical conditions and see how they’re affecting your foot health. 

The most common problems diabetics experience are swelling or numbness in the feet, diabetic foot pain, athlete’s foot and infections. Diabetes makes people more prone to have fluid buildup in their ankles or lower legs. Sometimes, a sore develops into an ulcer that can be infected with bacteria. These are all reasons to see a podiatrist in addition to your regular doctor when you suffer from diabetes. 

Sports Injuries May Require Specific Treatment 

Man leans over to grab his painful sprained ankle.While it’s common for athletes to experience foot and ankle pain, a podiatrist can help with chronic medical concerns such as shin splints, pain in one foot that doesn’t go away and athlete’s foot. Runners, for example, often develop bunions, calluses and joint problems due to the repeated stress they put on their feet. Stress fractures are also very common in runners if the wrong shoe or improper support is used. Primary care doctors can treat some of these problems, but you may need to see a podiatrist if regular treatment isn’t helping.  

If you’re injured due to physical activity, a podiatrist can be a member of the sports medicine team that helps you through your recovery. You may already be receiving physical therapy, but a podiatrist can make sure you’re progressing well and help reduce your recovery time. In the event you require surgery on your ankle or foot, a podiatrist can recommend and perform the proper procedures. 

Work With a Podiatrist When Beginning a New Activity 

If you’re trying to be more active to live a healthier lifestyle, you may find you experience discomfort in your lower legs, ankles and feet. You may need special shoes to prevent issues such as shin splints and to treat conditions like flat-footedness and plantar fasciitis, which often occur when people suddenly begin new exercise routines. Working with a podiatrist can help you hit those fitness goals without suffering from pitfalls that would impede your progress.  

Don’t Ignore Joint Pain and Arthritis in Your Feet 

Arthritis is the swelling of the joints in your body and is one of the most common conditions affecting the feet. You should seek podiatric care when you notice redness and swelling in your ankle or toe joints. This could be due to an injury to the joint or arthritis. A podiatrist knows how to treat joint pain and get you back on your feet so you can lead the active life you desire. 

Chronic Athlete’s Foot Could Be Due to Infection 

Podiatrist treating feet during procedureIf you’ve been receiving treatment for athlete’s foot from your regular doctor and it’s not improving, you may need a podiatrist to provide medical advice and a second opinion. Athlete’s foot is normally the result of fungus, but bacterial infections can often mimic the symptoms of a fungal infection. You may have a skin infection in your foot or toe that’s causing itchiness, pain, and redness. 

Ingrown Toenails Require Podiatric Care 

An ingrown toenail can cause pain and swelling that doesn’t go away without treatment. Ignoring a nail problem can also lead to an infection. A podiatrist can prescribe medications that may help reduce pain and inflammation in the toe and joint, and you might need to have a portion of the nail removed so it can heal.  

There May Be a Way to Treat Your Heel Pain 

If you’re experiencing a lot of pain in your heel, it could be because of an injury to the tendon, a bone spur or even arthritis. The first step is to see a podiatrist and have an exam and X-ray performed. Your podiatrist can recommend how to treat the heel spur and whether special custom inserts, shockwave, or laser therapy may help with the pain through your recovery.  

Corns and Calluses Require Special Care 

The primary cause of calluses and corns is built-up skin that’s hardened over a localized area. When the corn or callus becomes too thick, you experience pain and discomfort. Some topical medications may help treat the issue, but you may require minor surgery or local debridement if it’s unresponsive to the medication your doctor prescribes.  

A podiatrist examining a foot - when to see a podiatrist

Bunions Won’t Go Away on Their Own 

A bunion is a lumpy, hard bump that forms on the outside of your big toe joint. As it gets larger, it becomes inflamed and painful. Over time, this can affect your ability to perform the physical activities you enjoy. A podiatrist can perform a foot exam and other tests to determine how severe the bunion is and how best to treat it. 

Podiatrists Can Treat Broken Feet and Ankles 

If you’ve broken your foot or ankle, you should see a podiatrist. After performing an X-ray, the podiatrist can determine how best to treat the break and work with your physical therapist to help you recover faster. Podiatrists are more qualified to treat foot and ankle injuries than other types of doctors.  

Stop Ignoring Your Foot Pain 

Many people ignore foot care until it’s too late, which is why you need to see a podiatrist for your foot issues. A board-certified podiatrist can help you feel better, whether you’ve suffered a sports injury, are suffering from an ingrown toenail or require preventive care because you have a health condition that makes you more prone to foot issues. Get the treatment you need by scheduling an appointment with a podiatrist here at Align Foot and Ankle today.