Having healthy and happy feet are essential to overall wellness. Since they are the base of nearly all of your daily activities, it makes sense to take care of them to the best of your ability. If you are having any issues with your feet, but are unsure whether to see a podiatrist or not, here are a few tips to help you decide the right course of action.
If you’ve had a foot or ankle injury
- If you’re not sure if you have broken a bone. Foot fractures are a lot more common than people think and can lead to severe complications if left untreated.
- If you have severe pain, redness, or swelling on your foot or ankle—especially when pain is accompanied by fever or chills. These often indicate infection, which is common in foot injuries.
- If you can’t put any weight on your foot (or bear only partial weight due to pain). You’ll want to get it checked out before more damage occurs by walking on an injured foot.
- If you have an open wound. Even minor cuts can become infected quickly, especially when they appear in the moist environment of socks and shoes that feet often reside in—and infective bacteria can even enter the body through such small wounds as blisters or insect bites!
- If your pain has lasted for more than a week. This may indicate something worse is going on than just bruised muscles and tendons that will heal on their own over time—maybe even arthritis or gout-related problems that need attention from a specialist podiatrist.
If you have diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic condition that can cause damage to your body’s blood vessels, which in turn may lead to poor circulation. Diabetes can also cause nerve damage. For these reasons, people with diabetes are at an increased risk of developing foot ulcers and infections.
As a result, people with diabetes need to take care of their feet and see a podiatrist regularly for foot exams—even before you notice any problems.
If you are having trouble walking
If you’re having trouble walking, it’s time to see a podiatrist.
Podiatrists are foot and ankle doctors, and they can help prevent or treat problems with the feet and legs. Visiting a podiatrist can be scary if you’ve never seen one before, but it doesn’t have to be! Podiatrists are experts in foot health and will do everything to make you feel comfortable.
It’s time to see a podiatrist if:
- You are limping or having trouble walking
- You have pain in your foot, ankle, or heel
- You have pain radiating from your foot up to your leg
- You have pain in the ball of your foot (the part of the foot that is underneath the toes)
- You have pain in the arch of your foot (the middle part of the bottom of each foot)
Before starting or after stepping up your exercise regimen
Sometimes we want to “wait it out” and hope the pain will disappear. However, if there’s anything you should know about foot and ankle issues, they typically won’t get better on their own. They can even worsen over time. When orthopedic pain becomes chronic, it can have a negative impact on your quality of life. That’s why it’s essential to seek treatment as soon as possible.
If you’re starting or stepping up your exercise regimen, making sure you have correctly fitting shoes is vital for staying healthy. A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in feet and ankles — therefore, they are uniquely equipped to help ensure that the footwear you choose is the right one for your foot type, fit needs, fitness goals, and activities.
Podiatrists also understand how small changes in the size or shape of your foot can affect other parts of your body, such as the hips and knees. They are trained to recognize these issues upfront, so they do not become major problems later down the road (no pun intended).
If you have flat feet or very high arches
Flat feet and very high arches are the two most common foot problems. People who are born with no arches or a low arch in their foot have congenital flat feet. Flat feet can also be caused by other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, injury, pregnancy, and overweight. With physical therapy, shoe inserts, orthotics, or braces, flat feet can be treated.
People with very high arches may have difficulty walking and standing for long periods because their condition can cause pain in the ankle, knees, and hips. High arches are usually congenital but may also be caused by other conditions such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (a genetic disorder that affects the peripheral nervous system) or cerebral palsy (a neurological disorder that affects movement). The treatment for high arches will depend on what is causing them.
If you can see a deformity in your foot
The second thing to consider is whether you can see a deformity in your foot—a change in the size or shape of your foot. This could be anything from a bunion or hammertoe to something more severe like Charcot (shahr-koh) foot. Morton’s neuroma and heel spur also fall under this category. These conditions are prevalent, but if untreated for too long, they can lead to other complications that make them harder to treat later on.
If your feet hurt, see a podiatrist in Chattanooga. The podiatrists at our office can treat a wide range of foot and ankle problems, including bunions, heel pain, hammertoes, ingrown toenails, neuromas (burning nerve pain in the ball of your foot), plantar fasciitis (pain in the bottom of the foot), warts and fractures.