Top 10 Foot Problems Treated By Podiatrists
Posted by Jenn F. on Thursday, July 4th, 2013
Podiatrists aren’t just for the elderly or people with diabetes. Podiatry offers specialized care for a wide variety of foot problems. Many people do not know when they should see a podiatrist and wait until the problem has become advanced. Pretty much any pain, structural abnormality or foot injury can be treated by a doctor of podiatric medicine. Here are the 10 most common foot issues treated by foot doctors.
1. Birth Defects & Abnormalities
Infants affected by clubfoot may have one foot bent facing inward. Casting and early manipulations from birth can help correct this foot abnormality to ensure normal development and prevent major foot pain later in life. Other congenital problems occur later once the child starts walking. Flat feet, pigeon toes, bow legs and toe walking are common conditions treated by a podiatrist through diagnostic testing, physical therapy, special footwear selection, or surgery.
Swelling may be caused by uric acid buildup (gout), water retention (edema), or infection. Often times, infections can go unnoticed until antibiotics are required. If kicking your feet up for the day doesn’t help with the swelling, a podiatrist may be able to help figure out the root cause — be it weight, diet, an underlying medical condition, or a particular medication you’re taking.
Diabetes causes peripheral neuropathy — nerve damage which makes it difficult to detect foot injuries or pain. Reduced circulation makes wounds slow to heal, opening them to infection. Tissue that has become infected can then turn gangrene and warrant amputation. In fact, more than 60% of non-traumatic lower limb amputations are diabetics. To prevent this extreme injury, it’s vital for diabetics to visit a podiatrist regularly and use whatever tools they can find to manage the disease.
4. Injuries of the Feet & Lower Extremities
Athletes and people living particularly active lifestyles may require surgery, casts, braces or custom orthotics to help heal lower leg and foot injuries. Here at our NYC Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, we treat a lot of meniscal tears, ACL injuries, knee pain and torn tendons.
5. Thick, Yellow Nails
Those thick, yellow, crumbly nails are not just the result of aging, dryness, or too many toenail polish wears. It’s a sign of toenail fungus — and it cannot go away on its own. Millions of Americans are affected by the unsightly fungus, which can cause the toenail to loosen from the root if left unchecked for too long.
6. Ingrown Nails
Sometimes the toenail begins to grow into the soft tissue, rather than up and out. Often, the surrounding skin becomes infected. This condition will not go away or get better on its own, and you should not try your own bathroom surgery on the nail. Ingrown toenails can cause permanent changes to the surrounding tissues if it is not treated promptly. A podiatrist can remove a portion of the nail, so it grows back normally. Early treatment is important in this case.
Heredity and improper footwear can cause painful growths on the foot that make it difficult to walk. Podiatrists can treat minor bunions with conservative methods like local cortisone injections, footwear recommendations and stretching. More painful or serious bunions can be treated with different types of bunion surgery.
Hammertoe is another common foot condition caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes. Over time, the toe joints become deformed, causing foot pain. If stretching, medicated pads, and orthopedic shoes do not alleviate the pain, surgery can not be used to treat this common foot condition.
9. Plantar Warts
Plantar warts may appear like blisters at first. Upon closer inspection, there are small black dots inside the white raised skin. This condition is caused by contact with a fungus, usually picked up around pools, in wet grass, in locker rooms, or from showers. Treatment with salicylic acid and tape is usually effective over the course of several months. For severe fungal infections, cryosurgery may be necessary.
10. Chronic Foot Pain
Heel pain or plantar fasciitis is an overuse injury often treated by podiatrists. Prescribing custom orthotic shoe inserts can help improve knee and back pain. Other possible causes of chronic foot pain include: Neuromas (chronic nerve inflammation), Tendinitis, Bursitis, Haglund’s Deformity, Metatarsalgia, Seisamoiditis, Stress Fractures, or Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome, to name a few conditions. First a podiatrist will explore conservative treatments. If that does not help, surgical options using the latest technology can be discussed.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.