Podiatry or podiatric medicine focuses on diagnosing, preventing, and treating disorders of the feet, ankles, and lower extremities.
Podiatrists are medical specialists who treat foot and leg problems.
They can treat injuries, as well as complications from ongoing health conditions such as diabetes.
You might hear them referred to as podiatric physicians or podiatrists.
Feet perform a great deal of work. You’ll have walked 75,000 miles on them by the age of 50. It takes many bones, tendons, and ligaments to keep you moving, so you need them to work together perfectly.
You should contact a podiatrist if you have:
Podiatrists treat people of all ages for a variety of foot-related conditions, including the following:
These common foot and ankle injuries are regularly treated by podiatrists.
Podiatrists also work in sports medicine, treating foot problems athletes have and recommending ways to avoid them.
A bunion is a bony growth that forms where your big toe meets your foot — the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP).
The growth gradually grows over time, and eventually sticks out.
Sometimes it causes the big toe to turn so far that it is positioned on top of the toe next to it.
A bulging lump on the joint is the most obvious sign.
The joint might be painful and swollen.
Additionally, it can make it difficult to move your toes, especially your big toe.
Bunions are caused by conditions that make your joints swell and hurt, like rheumatoid arthritis.
The wrong shoe can also cause bunions to form, especially if it cramps your toes.
Some people are more likely to develop them as a result of the shape of their feet.
Girls between the ages of 10 and 15 are most likely to suffer from these, but boys can also suffer from them.
There is no clear reason why girls are more likely to have them, but it may have to do with changes in footwear around that age.
Adolescents and teens who have bunions can often move their big toe, but it still hurts.
A teenager is more likely to get them from a family history than from a health condition.
Bunionettes occur where the little toe meets the foot.
This condition is also known as a “tailor’s bunion”.
Tailors would sit cross-legged for long hours, which put pressure on the side of their feet and led to bunions near their pinky toes.
Hammertoe occurs when the muscles and ligaments around the toe joint lose their balance.
As a result, the middle joint of your toe buckles and gets stuck.
Hammertoes usually appear in the middle three toes of the foot.
Curled toes are also hammertoes.
This most often occurs on baby toes.
There are two kinds:
When you can still move your toe at the joint, it’s a flexible hammertoe.
This is good news, because it means you have a milder form of hammertoe.
Several treatment options may be available to you.
When your toe tendons become rigid, they push the joint out of alignment.
You cannot move your toe at this point.
Surgery is usually required at this point.
A person who has metatarsalgia will experience swelling and pain in the ball of their foot.
It can be caused by bunions and shoes that are too tight or too loose.
You’re more likely to get it if you run or jump a lot, such as when you play basketball or jog.
Putting insoles in your shoes can help.
Your big toe is cushioned by a fluid-filled sac called a bursa.
A bunion can cause the bursa to become inflamed and painful, which is called bursitis.
This can aggravate the pain and damage the smooth tissue covering the joint, called cartilage.
As a result, arthritis may develop.
Arthritis is caused by inflammation, swelling, and wear and tear in the joints.
There are 33 joints in each foot.
Physical therapy, drugs, or special shoes or inserts may be recommended by a podiatrist to treat arthritis.
Surgery may also be an option if other treatments don’t work.
There are two major types of arthritis that damage joints in different ways – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is caused by wear and tear on a joint’s cartilage – the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones where they meet.
Although cartilage cushions the ends of bones and allows nearly frictionless joint motion, if it is damaged enough it can result in bone grinding directly against bone, which causes pain and limited motion.
Wear and tear can occur over a period of time, or it can be accelerated by an injury or infection.
In addition to causing changes in the bones, osteoarthritis also deteriorates the connective tissues that hold muscles and bones together.
When cartilage is severely damaged in a joint, the joint lining may become inflamed and swollen.
During rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that surrounds all the joint parts.
The synovial membrane (lining) becomes inflamed and swollen.
As a result, bone and cartilage are eventually destroyed.
A podiatrist might be able to help your child if their feet point inward, look flat, or have their toes pointing in the wrong direction.
They may recommend exercises, insoles, or braces.
They may also recommend surgery.
Nerve problems between the third and fourth bones of your foot can cause pain, burning, and a sense that something is in your shoe.This is known as Morton’s Neuroma. Runners are more likely to suffer from these problems. Overpronation and tight shoes make it worse. A podiatrist can help you find an orthotic and give you shots for inflammation and pain. Surgery may be required to remove it.
Corns, calluses, and warts are thickened skin irritations that can occur on the foot.
Calluses are painful skin irritations that appear on the bottom of the feet.
A corn is when the thickened area is found on top of the toes.
Corns are often caused by shoes pressing against the toes.
The condition is exacerbated if the toe is crooked or contracted (hammertoe).
These areas usually represent areas of excessive pressure or friction in shoes or while walking on hard surfaces.
Use caution when using corn or callus removers, because these medications contain acids that burn the thickened skin.
If you have diabetes, you should never take these medications without consulting your physician.
Generally, these irritations will recur after use of these medications since the source of irritation is still present.
You can use shoe cushions or pads as home remedies, or cotton or pads if they are between the toes.
Some creams and lotions may provide temporary relief.
Plantar warts are hard growths on the bottom of the foot.
The bottom of the foot is the plantar aspect, thus the name plantar wart.
Plantar warts are caused by a viral infection.
Since they are caused by a virus, they can spread.
Although they are not highly contagious, they tend to spread to other areas of the foot.
Do not pick at plantar warts or share your shoes with others if you have them.
You can buy over-the-counter wart removal products.
Because the skin is so thick, these medicines usually don’t work because the medicine, which is an acid, can’t penetrate deep enough to kill the wart.
It can be difficult even for your doctor to treat warts.
Because some can be quite persistent, it is best to catch them early and treat them before they become established.
These include issues such as a fungus infection in your nail or an ingrown toenail.
An ingrown toenail occurs when a nail’s corner or side grows into your toe instead of straight out.
Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood sugar (glucose).
Glucose is vital to your health because it gives the cells that make up your muscles and tissues energy.
It is also the primary fuel for your brain.
Diabetes has different causes depending on its type.
Diabetes, regardless of the type, can cause excess sugar in the blood.
Excess sugar can cause serious health problems.
Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are chronic diabetes conditions.
Prediabetes and gestational diabetes are potentially reversible diabetes conditions.
A person with pre-diabetes has blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetic.
Prediabetes is often the precursor to diabetes unless steps are taken to prevent its progression.
A woman may develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy, but it may go away after the baby is born.
The symptoms of diabetes vary depending on how high your blood sugar is.
Some people, especially those with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, may not experience any symptoms.
The symptoms of type 1 diabetes tend to appear quickly and to be more severe.
Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes can cause the following symptoms:
Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, though it usually appears during childhood or adolescence.
Type 2 diabetes, the most common type, can develop at any age, though it is most common in people over 40.
The nerves in your feet and legs may be damaged by diabetes, and you might have difficulty getting enough blood to them.
Complications can result from this.
Approximately 65,000 people a year have to have a foot amputated — removed by a doctor — because of diabetes. Podiatrists can prevent this from happening.
Be sure to have any sores or calluses on your feet checked out if you have diabetes.
Podiatrists are experts in diagnosing and treating abnormal conditions of the feet and lower limbs.
Also, they prevent and correct deformities, keep people mobile and active, relieve pain, and treat infections.
Both podiatrists and chiropodists specialize in the treatment of the lower limb.
Their names differ primarily due to geography.
In the United States, podiatrists are more commonly recognized than chiropodists, which describes foot specialists in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
In other words, chiropody and podiatry are essentially the same thing.
When you experience a foot or ankle problem, you should visit a podiatrist first.
If you have problems with any other part of your musculoskeletal system, you should consult an orthopedist.
Pain is likely to be the first symptom of arthritis.
You may feel pain in all the toes or only in the big toe.
They describe it as ranging from a deep, aching sensation to a sharper, stabbing sensation when they move.
Symptoms of arthritis in your feet include pain when you move your feet or ankles, tenderness around the affected joints, redness or swelling around affected joints, and an inability to stand or put pressure on your feet.
As you age, a bunion will only get worse.
In the beginning, a mild bunion may not be painful, but it can eventually cause pain in the big toe joint and make shoe fitting difficult.
Bunions are most likely to form when feet are repeatedly squeezed into tight, pointed-toed shoes.
The big toe pushes against the other toes, sometimes getting pushed over or under the other toes.
Thus, the base of the big toe – the metatarsophalangeal joint (MTP) – protrudes or angles outward from the foot.
Sadly, no. Bunions are progressive foot deformities that will only get worse over time.
Orthotics and splints change the foot’s position, improve foot function, and reduce pain, but they cannot reverse or stop the development of a bunion.
Surgery is the only way to permanently correct a bunion.
Hammertoes are progressive-they do not go away on their own and usually get worse over time.
However, surgery can permanently correct a hammertoe.