A podiatrist is a specialized ankle and foot doctor. In addition to dealing with various sports injuries, podiatrists also handle problems such as bunion foot surgery, flat foot pain, ingrown toenail removal, corn removal and callous removal. But there are numerous health problems, some affecting more than just the feet and ankles, that can show up in the feet. Here are some signs it’s time to find a podiatrist:
- Foot Discoloration
A bluish tint to your feet could indicate a lack of oxygen; a reddish tint could be a sign of gout (no, though it sounds old-fashioned, gout doesn’t only affect 17th-century monarchs). If you notice any discoloration that isn’t a bruise with an obvious cause, you should get it checked out.
- Chronic Pain or Numbness
The muscles in your feet can get sore and tired, just like the rest of your body, so it’s not unusual to have moderate pain after a long hike or day on your feet. But if you’re experiencing pain that doesn’t go away in a day or two, you should check with a podiatrist to ensue there’s no lasting damage that requires treatment. Likewise, numbness could be a sign of major neurological problems, so you should never just ignore it and hope that it goes away.
- Burning Sensations
Stiffness in the joints that gives way to a burning sensation along your ankle and lower leg is a symptom of tendonitis. Mild tendonitis, which is simply an inflammation of any given tendon, can be treated with rest, ice and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like ibuprofen). But chronic tendonitis should be assessed by a podiatrist, who can help you discover and eliminate whatever is irritating your tendon, as well as relieving pain as a short-term fix.
- When Your Shoes Wear Unevenly
If you notice that one of your shoes wears out before the other, or one part of your shoe gets more worn down, you probably need to have a professional assessment of your weight distribution and walking mechanics. Resist the urge to go to your local running shoe store for such an assessment, as employees there have a vested interest in selling you specific shoes; instead, find a podiatrist who can recommend the best course of action depending on whether you need physical therapy, custom orthotics or some combination.
- When You Have Diabetes
Certain health problems such as diabetes place patients at a much higher risk for foot problems. Sometimes these health problems can become extremely serious — even requiring amputation of toes or feet — without ever causing pain, so it’s important that diabetics see a podiatrist on a regular basis regardless of symptoms.
Do you have any recommendations for how to find a podiatrist? Share in the comments.