If you have foot or leg pain, you may need to see a podiatrist. This medical specialist can help relieve pain and improve issues you may have with your feet or legs. If you’ve never had a visit with a podiatrist, it can be helpful to understand who they are and what they do to alleviate any fears.
What Is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a medical doctor who has studied problems of the foot, ankle, and leg. They are officially known as doctors of podiatric medicine with the designation of DPM instead of MD. These specialists treat injuries of the lower extremities as well as chronic conditions.
Podiatrists can diagnose medical conditions related to feet and legs and perform surgery. They can also prescribe medication and order tests. Podiatrists often work closely with other doctors to help patients who are diabetic as this condition can cause medical issues with the feet and legs.
Common Conditions Treated by a Podiatrist
DPMs treat a wide range of conditions affecting feet and legs, but some problems are more common. Here are some medical issues for which you would expect to visit a podiatrist for treatment:
- Fractures and sprains: Podiatrists will diagnose these issues with an X-ray and treat the injury
- Bunions: The base of the big toe increases in size or is knocked out of place to bend toward the other toes
- Hammertoes: Occurs when the toe bends in the wrong direction
- Heel pain: Is caused by plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, or Achilles tendinitis among other issues
- Arthritis: Inflammation and swelling in the feet and legs around the joints
- Diabetes: Side effects include poor circulation, foot ulcers, and neuropathy concerns that affect the feet and legs
- Nail issues: Happens when ingrown toenails grow into the toe. A fungal infection can cause the toenail to become thick and discolored
If you suffer from any of the above conditions, see a podiatrist for diagnosis and treatment.
Another aspect of a podiatrist’s job is to prescribe orthotics for patients. Orthotics provide support for the foot or ankle and can help treat various problems, such as poor stride or weight distribution. For instance, some people walk on the outside of their feet while others roll their feet inward. A shoe with orthotics insoles could help them redistribute their weight so they are walking on the soles of their feet correctly.
Your podiatrist can help you determine the best orthotic inserts or shoes that will help alleviate back and leg pain, correct foot deformities, and improve the function of your foot or ankle. The specialist can also help you find the right solution to reduce the risk for future injuries.
Orthotics are customized to fit your foot precisely. They are chosen after the podiatrist examines your foot or leg and diagnoses the issue. Your specialist will watch you walk, notice how you stand, and check your range of motion to make a firm assessment.
Why Should You See a Podiatrist?
If you’re having foot, ankle, or leg pain, schedule a visit with a podiatrist. They will be able to diagnose your issue and select the right treatment.
Pain or injury aren’t the only reasons to visit a podiatrist. Consider visiting a DPM if you notice problems with how you walk or issues with your feet or toes. Even if you aren’t in any pain now, leaving a condition untreated could lead to medical concerns in the future.
Diabetics should also make an appointment with a podiatrist. These specialists can monitor your feet and legs in order to prevent diabetes-related issues before they occur.
Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with an experienced podiatrist if you have any problems with your feet, legs, or ankles, or if you notice issues when walking or standing.