Podiatry is the area of medicine that concentrates on the foot, ankle, and lower limb. It encapsulates the treatment of injury, birth defects, as well as the prevention and management of disease. The seriousness of the conditions and diseases varies but is likely to include improving gait, treating diabetes or treatment of ingrown toenails.
Podiatry at a Medical Centre
Podiatryusually takes place in purpose-designed medical centre or clinic due to the specialist equipment that is required. The podiatrist will be a licensed physician or surgeon who will have majored in this particular field of medicine. They rarely offer consultations or a medical opinion on any other areas of the body. These doctors will have undertaken a three or four-year degree to become a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). It should be understood that a podiatrist is different from a chiropodist.
Reasons to Visit a Podiatrist
There are several reasons why might wish to see a podiatrist at a medical centre or clinic. Below are ten of the most common reasons:
1. Pain in Feet or Ankle
Pain in the ankles or feet are common ailments with one of the most common causes being arthritis. Often the first symptom is redness combined with pain or stiffness. It is at this point that you should visit a podiatry clinic as the condition may affect your gait, causing more serious problems further down the line. A range of treatments are likely to be suggested, including lifestyle changes, medication, and podiatric inner soles for footwear.
Strains and sprains of the ankle or foot are relatively common injuries. A podiatrist can diagnose the extent of the injury and suggest treatments. They can perform X-rays, surgery as well as issue supporting casts. A podiatrist can also suggest some exercises to help with rehabilitation in the short-term or long-term.
Runners are particularly prone to problems in the feet or lower limbs. If you are embarking on a new fitness regime, a podiatrist can recommend suitable footwear and identify potential problems. Recommending strategies to avoid problems is one of their fortes and will allow you to continue without pain.
Diabetes is becoming increasingly common around the world and increases a sufferer’s chance of developing foot problems. Common problems include dry skin but more serious problems can develop leading to amputation of limbs. Diabetics should see a podiatrist at least once a year to reduce the risk of amputation by around 50%.
5. Heel Pain
If you suffer from persistent heel pain it is advisable to see a podiatrist for an accurate diagnosis. Common problems include bony growths or inflamed tendons. A proper diagnosis will set you on the road to recovery with a personalised treatment plan.
6. Ingrown Toenails
Toenails that grow into the skin are likely to be painful and frequently cause infection. They mostly affect the big toe but can occur with any toenail. They will initially prescribe medication and then, in some cases, partial removal of the nail.
7. Corns or Callus
Corns and calluses are a build-up of skin that can become painful if it is too thick. Medication is usually the first method of treatment followed by removal of some of the skin using a scalpel. This is painless as this is just dead skin.
A bunion will form at the base of the big toe when a bone or joint becomes displaced. Without treatment, the bunion will get progressively worse and become extremely painful. The most common forms of treatment are padding, taping or medication. Surgery is required in the most serious of cases.
9. Foot Surgery
Podiatric surgeons can perform several surgical procedures at their medical centre or clinic. The most common forms of surgery are bunion removal, repairing broken bones in the foot or ankle and treating ingrown toenails. Surgery is usually the last form of treatment.
10. Reoccurring Athlete’s Foot
Athlete’s Foot is a common fungal condition between the toes. It can be painful and itchy with a scaly appearance. Over-the-counter medication may ease the problem but if it becomes persistent a visit to a podiatry clinic will help. They will be able to prescribe more effective medications as well as checking for additional bacterial infections requiring antibiotics.
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