Everyone experiences pain in their feet from time to time, but when is foot pain a serious problem? Taking care of your feet is as important as the rest of your body, yet people often neglect them. In this guide, we’ve highlighted some of the most common podiatry issues, signs that you might need to see a medical professional, and what kind of things put people more at risk of podiatry problems. But first of all, let’s look at what a podiatrist actually is.
What is a podiatrist?
A Podiatrist is a health professional who is interested in the diagnosis and treatment of foot, ankle and lower limb problems. They can treat injuries and complications from other health issues, as well as diagnose potential problems or infections in your feet and of lower legs.
Common podiatry issues
There are some common conditions that podiatrists treat on a regular basis. These are often low-risk and can be treated with over the counter medicines and plasters. These include:
- Fungal infections – fungal infections are skin diseases caused by a fungus and most commonly can be treated with creams, sprays or powders.
- Plantar fasciitis – a pain on the bottom of your foot, around your heel and arch. Often a thick band of tissue is inflamed, which causes the pain and discomfort.
- Calluses – a section of skin that has built and thickened due to friction, pressure or irritation. These often form on the sides of the feet or near the heel.
- Corns – similar to a callus, a corn is an area of thick, dry skin that develops when skin is exposed to friction or pressure.
- Bunions – a bony lump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe, often caused by wearing tight narrow shoes, but can also develop as the result of the shape of a foot or a medical condition like arthritis.
- Blisters – bubbles containing fluid in pockets under the top layer of skin, blisters protect damaged skin and help it heal. On the feet they are often caused by friction from shoes.
Signs you need to see a podiatrist
There are certain signs that shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to your feet and lower limbs. If you notice any of the following, we would recommend seeing a podiatrist:
- Pain in your feet that lasts for more than a week- even if it comes and goes
- Difficulty walking or putting weight on your foot
- Changes to the skin on your feet including discolouration or dryness
- Thickened or discoloured toenails
- Swollen feet or changes in the size and shape
If you are experiencing any of these issues, we advise that you book to see a podiatrist as some of these symptoms could be related to an underlying health issue.
Who is most at risk of developing a podiatry problem?
Many people may need to see a podiatrist at some point in their lives for a range of issues with their feet or lower legs. However, some health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and high cholesterol can trigger problems with the feet, putting some people more at risk than others.
- Diabetes – people with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing foot problems. Raised blood glucose can damage sensation in the feet as well as affecting circulation, meaning less blood supply to the feet.
- Arthritis – arthritis causes the cushioning cartilage inside joints to wear down – on feet this means your bones will rub and wear against each other. The feet are particularly at risk due to the high number of different bones present in this area.
- High Cholesterol – an accumulation of high cholesterol can cause blood vessels to clog. This is especially dangerous in the feet and legs where a lot of blood can accumulate if the person is frequently immobile. A sign of this condition can be tingling sensations in the feet.
If you’re at higher risk of these problems, it’s important to check your feet and legs regularly for any changes in how they look or feel.
If you’re concerned about a health issue or are not sure where to find a podiatrist near you, you can get in touch with one of our health care professionals today.