Our feet serve as the foundation for our body. However, for something so vital, they are often given little thought or are taken advantage of until something goes wrong. As we grow older, it’s natural that our feet develop more problems, but foot and ankle pain doesn’t have to be something you simply accept or put up with. If your feet are not feeling 100 per cent then you should visit a podiatrist.
A podiatrist is a registered health care professional trained specifically to assess, diagnose, prevent, treat and manage foot and lower limb conditions. They have a broad scope of practice and frequently treat a wide range of problems that can occur to your feet. Seeing a podiatrist is a step in the right direction for better foot and lower limb health.
Below are some key reasons for seeing a podiatrist.
Muscular and bone conditions
Do you have sore tired feet? Or perhaps you suffer heel pain or arthritis? These muscular and bone conditions are reason to visit a podiatrist. Podiatrists routinely treat a variety of muscular foot and bone conditions as well as helping people manage arthritic feet so they can maintain their mobility and comfort. Podiatrists can prescribe specific stretching and strengthening exercises, recommend appropriate footwear options, use manual therapies such as massage or prescribe an orthotic (arch support/insole) for you to wear in your shoes.
Orthotics are used to successfully treat and manage foot and ankle problems and help treat shin, knee, hip and lower back issues. Orthotics provide support to the arch of your feet, helping support the alignment of your body to reduce mechanical stress that may cause an injury.
Skin and nail conditions
Do you have corns on your feet or ingrown toenails making it difficult for you to comfortably wear shoes? A podiatrist can treat many skin and nail conditions such as the build up of hard-thickened skin, calluses, corns, fungal nail infections, ingrown toenails, thickened toenails and cracked heels. They can also provide solutions to prevent any calluses and corns from reoccurring.
Diabetes can cause serious changes to your feet, which may not be visible and if left untreated can cause serious damage. If you have diabetes it is highly recommended you see a podiatrist at least once a year for a diabetes foot health assessment. The yearly assessment will pick up any changes that may be occurring to your feet due to diabetes and allow your podiatrist to help recommend strategies to prevent a diabetic foot ulcer (wound) or an amputation of your foot and lower limb.
Poorly controlled diabetes can result in nerve damage to your feet and legs causing peripheral neuropathy – a loss of the protective sensation in feet that results in the inability to sense pressure, pain or heat. Being able to feel pain is very important, it’s our body’s way of telling us something is wrong. Having peripheral neuropathy affects your ability to sense harmful and painful interferences with your feet like the forming of a blister or a stone being stuck inside your shoe. Without being able to sense these problems a significant injury or infection can occur before you sense it, which is why peripheral neuropathy is highly associated with foot ulceration and amputation.
Diabetes is also associated with poor circulation. Good blood supply is required to maintain healthy feet and to assist in healing any injuries that may occur to your feet. Poor circulation and peripheral neuropathy mean cuts and wounds take longer to heal. And, in more severe cases, small cuts and wounds are unable to heal or become severely infected, leading to possible amputation. However, diabetic foot ulcers and amputations can be prevented by seeing a Podiatrist and having regular diabetes foot assessments.
Do you have issues with your feet? Have you seen a podiatrist about it? What results did you see?