Did you know your body is made up of 206 bones, and 52 of these bones are found in your feet? In other words, you have 26 bones in each foot. What’s more, human feet have approximately 8,000 nerves, which explains why feet tend to be so ticklish. Why does knowing this matter?
Your feet literally carry you through life, and the intricate network of bones and nerves within your feet make them susceptible to a wide range of medical conditions. That’s why seeing a podiatrist, especially if you have chronic foot or ankle issues, is just as important as seeing a physician or dentist for annual checkups. Regular visits to your local podiatrist can help keep your feet in good health and prevent unwanted medical conditions.
What Is Podiatry?
Podiatry involves the study and treatment of human feet and how they interact with the rest of the body. Feet play a key role in terms of maintaining mobility. If you have foot pain, you won’t be able to walk comfortably or engage in your favorite forms of physical activity. This is where the expertise of a podiatrist comes into play.
What Does a Podiatrist Do?
A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine and specializes in foot and ankle care. Unlike medical doctors, podiatrists typically spend four years in podiatric medical school, followed by at least three years of residency in a hospital or clinic before they’re qualified to practice podiatry on their own.
Some podiatrists choose to pursue additional responsibilities and become podiatric surgeons. To become a surgeon, a podiatrist must have extensive training and pass special exams which qualify them to perform a wide variety of foot and ankle surgeries. Other podiatric specialties include pediatrics, diabetic care and sports injuries.
Podiatrists typically work in tandem with medical doctors, such as family doctors, endocrinologists, chiropractors and orthopedists.
When Should You See a Podiatrist?
Consider seeing a podiatrist if you’re experiencing foot or ankle pain that won’t go away despite applying home remedies, like rest, cold therapy or over-the-counter pain medication.
You should seek immediate medical attention if your pain becomes severe or you’re experiencing additional symptoms like swelling, numbness, tingling, open sores or infection. These symptoms are typically accompanied with an inability to walk or put weight on the foot.
Aside from pain and swelling, there’s a myriad of other reasons to see a podiatrist, including:
- Foot or ankle injuries: Including sprains, strains, broken bones and dislocations
- Ingrown toenails: Happens when the side of a nail digs into the flesh of the toe
- Athlete’s foot: A fungal infection which manifests as burning and itching between the toes
- Diabetes: Having diabetes increases the risk of foot ulcers, calluses, nerve damage and poor circulation in the feet
- Flat feet: Occurs when the sole of the foot loses its arch, resulting in pain and reduced mobility
- Arthritis: May cause chronic pain in the feet, toes and ankles
- Bunions: Unsightly and painful bumps that form on the outer side of the big toe
- Plantar warts: Typically occur on the soles of the feet and are caused by a viral infection
What Does a Typical Visit to a Podiatrist Look Like?
A typical visit to a podiatrist will begin with detailed questions about your medical history and the medications you’re currently taking. The doctor will then ask you to describe your foot or ankle symptoms in as much detail as you can. They’ll also physically examine your feet and observe your gait and range of motion. They may want to see the type of shoes you wear and suggest alternative options if the specific footwear isn’t right for your feet.
Treatment will depend on the type and severity of your podiatric condition and may involve:
- Medications, including pain injections
- Physical therapy
- Surgery to remove ingrown nails or bunions
- Cryotherapy to remove warts
- Orthotic inserts
- Surgery on fractures
Schedule a Podiatrist Visit in Roseburg, Oregon
At Centennial Orthopedics and Podiatry, our team of specialists offers diagnostic and treatment solutions to address your foot and ankle conditions. We’re committed to providing the best and most innovative orthopedic and podiatric care to you and your family.
To schedule an appointment, call our Roseburg office at 541.229.2663.