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Foot Pain Is Serious: When to See a Podiatrist

by Anna Woodward

posted in Health and Fitness

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A podiatrist or podiatric physician is a doctor who is devoted to the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions involving the foot and ankle. Pain or health complications in the lower extremities can be indicative of other, more serious medical conditions and can also be the result of diet and lifestyle. This article provides information on common podiatric conditions. If you suffer from any of the following problems, you should see a doctor.
Corns and Callus
A corn is a concentrated area of hard skin on your foot, which can be very painful. Callus refers to a widespread, less concentrated section of hardened skin. Many people have mild sections of callus from working long hours on their feet, but usually don't experience pain. If pain is present, the condition could require the professional removal of hardened skin and prevention treatment.
Ingrown or Thick, Yellowed Toenails
The condition of your toenails can tell a podiatrist a lot about your health. Common toenail problems that could land you in a podiatric physician's office are ingrown nails and discoloration. Ingrown toenails by the nail growing into the skin, which creates a lot of pain. Ingrown nails can occur due to careless toenail clipping or tight shoes. It is very easy for ingrown nails to become infected, so if pain persists or symptoms of infection appear, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. In extreme cases, treatment will involve the removal of the toenail. Thick, yellow toenails indicate the presence of a fungal infection, which also requires podiatric treatment.
Heel Pain
Heel pain, or plantar fasciitis, can be caused by a number of things, such as injury, arthritis, bone spurs, and gout crystals. You need to have an x-ray and get a professional diagnosis to keep the problem from getting worse. Possible treatments for heel pain include therapeutic insoles, injections, and medication.
Numbness and Swelling
Numbness, pain, and swelling, or oedema, in the feet is cause for concern. Oedema is a symptom of serious conditions such as infection and lymphedema. Numbness and swelling should definitely be checked out by your doctor, especially if you're experiencing these sensations in one foot and not the other. Tendonitis is also associated with a tingling sensation or feeling of numbness. Not only is tendonitis quite painful, it also places undue strain on surrounding tissues and joints. Without treatment, tendonitis will worsen.
Pain in the Pad of the Foot
Any sort of persistent foot pain, including pain in the pad of the foot, is a good reason to visit your podiatrist. Pad pain is typically related to the amount of stress placed on that area by your daily activities and the structure of your foot. Store bought insoles and cushions may help, but a doctor can identify exactly what is causing your pain and offer a tailored solution. Possible treatments for pad pain in the foot are custom made night splints, shoe pads, arch supports, and padded insoles.
Bunions
Bunions are a genetic structural deformity of the bones in the foot, specifically the joint between the foot and big toe. Because they are inherited, bunions can be monitored and treated over a lifetime. All joints suffer from some degree of deterioration and arthritis due to age, but toe joints with bunions can become swollen, immobilized, and incredibly painful during old age. Starting treatment early can help you avoid more drastic treatments later in life, such as surgical correction.
If you are experiencing a persistent, unpleasant sensation in your feet or ankles, schedule an appointment with a podiatric physician as soon as possible. While most foot pain is not serious and can be easily corrected, it can also indicate serious health problems. You need your feet to get you around, so take care of them!
About the Author: When considering a podiatrist, Brooklyn residents visit Downtown NYC Foot Care. Learn more at http://www.downtownnycfootcare.com//dr_loninger.html.
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