1. Health

Do You Need a Podiatrist?

By

Updated September 04, 2012

If you have ever experienced a problem with your feet such as pain, infection, or swelling you may be wondering where to seek help. Perhaps you find yourself in need of routine trimming of your toenails or calluses and have a medical condition such as diabetes or vascular disease. These and other foot-related health concerns are treated by podiatrists. Because podiatry is a medical specialty, some patients come to a podiatrist's office having been referred by their primary care physician. However, many patients see a podiatrist as their first line of foot care.

Here is a list of the most common conditions that warrant a trip to a podiatrist:

• Regular evaluation of the feet and preventative foot care for people with diabetes and other chronic health conditions, such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

• Any painful condition such as heel or joint pain

• Painful corns or calluses

Toenail infection, discoloration, or change in thickness

• Skin infections or lesions such as warts

• Evaluation of foot structure and function and treatment of any disorders such as flat feet or high arches

• Traumatic conditions such as a sprain or tendonitis

• Rashes

• Any abnormality of a bone structure, such as a bunion or hammer toe

• Care of wounds, especially for those with diabetes

• Nerve symptoms such as numbness, tingling, or burning sensations in the feet

• Prescription and dispensing of custom orthotics and diabetic shoes

If any of these conditions or needs pertain to you, make an appointment with a podiatrist. If you have a medical condition for which you are currently being treated or you are experiencing nerve symptoms as listed above, start with a visit to your primary care provider.

Podiatry at a Glance:

• After college, a podiatrist receives four years of training at a school of podiatric medicine and then a few more years of post-graduate training.

• Many podiatrists are surgically trained and treat conditions requiring surgery such as bone deformities, deep infections, or soft tissue abnormalities. Common surgical procedures include: bunion or hammertoe correction and surgery to relieve plantar fasciitis, also known as heel spur syndrome.

•The typical podiatry office is equipped for taking x-rays, designing casts of a patient’s feet for custom orthotics, performing minor procedures such as removal of an ingrown toenail, and much more.

• Most podiatrists treat patients of all ages.

• Regular podiatric care plays an integral role in the prevention of diabetic foot complications. Routine podiatric care has been shown to decrease the likelihood of limb amputation due to the complications of diabetes.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.