Did you know that you can log more than 75,000 miles on your feet by the time you are 50 years old? Your feet absorb thousands of pounds of shock over your lifetime while also helping keep you upright, stable, and in motion.
Unfortunately, most people don’t give their feet much thought—at least until there’s a problem. In many cases, even recurring aches and pains are brushed off as a side effect of too much standing or walking, uncomfortable shoes, or just aging.
Knowing when to see a podiatrist, a doctor trained in treating conditions of the feet and ankles, makes a significant difference to your overall quality of life and preserves your mobility. You don’t have to have an injury to see a podiatrist, either. You might be surprised, in fact, at the number of conditions podiatrists can treat and when you should make a podiatry appointment.
When to See a Podiatrist to Treat Your Feet
Reason 1: You Have Foot Pain
Almost everyone experiences occasional, temporary foot pain. Walking or standing more than usual or just wearing the wrong shoes to an event can leave your feet achy and sore the next day.
However, ongoing, foot pain longer than 5 days is a sign that you need to see a foot doctor. Even if you have gotten used to pain or discomfort in your feet or only have foot pain when walking barefoot or in other specific circumstances, you do not have to—and should not— accept it.
Foot pain can mean different things and does not always begin or end in the feet. Persistent foot pain could be a sign of an underlying medical condition, like rheumatologic stress reactions, alignment imbalances and osteoporosis. Or, it may simply be a matter of wearing the wrong shoes. A podiatrist will uncover the source of the pain and recommend treatment options to alleviate it.
Reason 2: You Have Irregularities in Your Foot
Make a podiatry appointment if you have foot irregularities that might be causing foot pain or you are interested in potential treatments options..
Bunions are painful bumps or bulges on the joint of the big toe caused by shifting of the first metatarsal, known as “falling arches”. Although often hereditary, wearing the wrong shoes or walking abnormally can also cause them. Patients may need surgery to reduce the pain in extreme cases, but a podiatrist can also recommend less invasive options.
Corns and calluses are dead skin cells that build up on your feet that can cause foot pain. Sometimes, a deformity in the toe can cause corns that require surgical correction. The procedure may be best left to a doctor because corns and thick calluses need to be removed using a scalpel or other means.
Reason 3: You Have Been Diagnosed with Diabetes
Elevated blood sugars levels can cause problems with your feet over time, and a podiatrist is part of the care team for most people with diabetes. The disease can cause a host of symptoms related to the feet and legs, including pain, swelling, and skin problems. People with diabetes are also at greater risk for neuropathy, which can cause numbness and a loss of feeling in the feet, diabetic ulcers, and painful skin sores.
If you are diagnosed with diabetes, talk to your doctor about when to see a podiatrist. Taking care of your feet will prevent serious complications, including possible amputation. In fact, including a podiatrist as part of your care team lowers your risk of losing one or both feet by 85% and your risk of hospitalization by 24%.
Reason 4: You Have Skin and Toenail Problems
Dry skin is common, but do you know when to see a podiatrist to treat the skin on your feet?
Excessively dry, cracked, or bleeding skin on your feet could be a sign of an underlying health issue, including fungal infections. Although many people think that lotions or creams will fix their foot skin, they can worsen the problem. Therefore, it’s worth making a podiatry appointment to get such foot-related skin issues checked out.
In addition, problems with your toenails, including ingrown nails or infections, should also be looked at by a foot doctor for proper treatment.
Reason 5: You Started an exercise program that is weight bearing
A podiatry appointment is in order if you have started running, whether as a new sport or returning after an absence. New runners are more prone to pain and injuries like shin splints, and seeing the doctor can help prevent them. A podiatrist will evaluate your gait (how you move your feet while walking and running), identify any potential trouble areas, and recommend shoes, stretches, and post-run care to keep you pain and injury-free.
Reason 6: If you have been given a foot/ankle diagnosis and you are not improving in an expected amount of time.
Podiatry at EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region
At EmergeOrtho—Triangle Region, our team of providers includes specialty-trained Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) committed to helping our patients keep their feet healthy and pain-free. From diagnosis through treatment, we want to help you Emerge Stronger, Healthier, and Better.
Self-schedule your podiatry appointment today, or call us any time at (919) 220-5255.