Did you know that the average person takes about 3,000-4,000 steps daily? With all that foot traffic, it is no wonder foot problems are so common. When these issues arise, it is important to seek help from a foot doctor, also known as a podiatrist (DPM). These medical professionals specialize in treating conditions and injuries that affect the feet and ankles and undergo extensive training to become experts in their field.
Common Conditions Treated by a Foot Doctor
Our feet literally carry us through life, so it is no surprise that they occasionally develop problems. Fortunately, a foot doctor, or a podiatrist, is a specially trained medical professional who can diagnose and treat a wide range of foot and toe issues, conditions, diseases, and injuries.
Some of the most common foot problems that individuals may face include:
- Ingrown toenails
- Skin or nail diseases
- Wound care
- Foot orthotics
- Sports-related foot and ankle injuries
- Plantar fasciitis
- Hammer toes
- Painful neuropathy
Additionally, conditions like diabetes can pose significant foot threats and require specialized care. A foot doctor can provide essential diabetic foot care to prevent complications like infections and ulcers.
The conditions a foot doctor treats go beyond the common foot problems that people face. If you have a foot or ankle issue causing you pain or affecting your daily activities, it is essential to seek medical care from a foot doctor.
Types of Treatments and Services Provided by Foot Doctors
Podiatric doctors undergo extensive training to diagnose and provide various treatments for several conditions. Depending on your condition and its severity will determine the best treatment option for you.
Treatment of Injured Ankles, Sprains, and Strains
Ankle injuries, sprains, and strains can be painful and limit mobility, but several treatment options are available. The first step in treating these conditions is accurately diagnosing the injury’s extent. This typically involves a physical examination and imaging tests like X-rays or MRI scans.
Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment options may range from rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) to physical therapy and surgery. For mild to moderate ankle sprains or strains, RICE is often effective.
Physical therapy may also help patients regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the affected ankle. A physical therapist may prescribe specific exercises, stretches, and other interventions to help patients recover and prevent future injuries.
Surgery for more severe ankle injuries, such as a torn ligament or fracture, may be required. An orthopedic surgeon or podiatrist doctor can perform the necessary procedure to repair the damaged tissue or bone. Post-surgery, patients typically undergo physical therapy to help restore function and mobility to the ankle.
Each patient’s injury is unique, so treatment plans should be tailored to the individual. Consulting with a podiatrist is recommended to develop an appropriate treatment plan for your injury.
Surgical Procedures for Foot and Ankle Conditions
Surgical procedures are often necessary for treating various foot and ankle conditions, especially those that cannot be addressed through noninvasive treatments or physical therapy.
One common surgical procedure is arthroscopy. This minimally invasive procedure involves making small incisions in the affected area and using a tiny camera to guide the surgeon as they perform repairs or remove damaged tissue. Arthroscopy often treats conditions like ankle and toe arthritis, ligament tears, and chronic ankle instability. The benefits of arthroscopy include less scarring, less pain, and decreased recovery time.
Another surgical option is fusion, which involves joining two or more bones in the foot or ankle together. This procedure is often recommended for patients with severe arthritis or deformities that result in instability or pain. While fusion eliminates the damaged joint and stops further degeneration, it can also limit mobility and increase the stress on surrounding joints. The recovery process for fusion surgery is often longer than arthroscopy, and patients may require crutches or a cast for several weeks.