When should I see a podiatrist?
A podiatrist is an expert in all matters pertaining to foot and ankle health. They have more specialized training and experience with this area of the body than a general practitioner.
Never hesitate to schedule an appointment with us for any foot or ankle problems or concerns you may have. You never have to wait for something to become “bad enough” to warrant seeing us. In fact, the earlier a problem is identified and addressed, the faster and more effectively it can be addressed.
Just a few of the conditions that are very much worth seeing a podiatrist about include:
- Persistent heel pain
- Pain, swelling, or numbness in one or both feet
- Fungal toenails
- Recurring or infected ingrown toenails
- Bunions and hammertoes
- Painful corns or calluses
- Sports injuries, including suspected ankle sprains and fractures
- Anything pertaining to foot care if you live with diabetes
If you are not certain whether you should schedule an appointment with us or have further questions, you can always contact us for assistance. We’ll always be happy to hear from you.
What causes heel pain?
Persistent heel pain can occur due to many different conditions, each of which can have a number of different causes.
To most effectively treat a particular case of heel pain, it is essential to determine and understand the factors that are contributing to the problem. If a treatment doesn’t focus on the specific causes, it is unlikely to provide the results you need.
Various sources of heel pain include:
- Overuse injuries (placing too much strain on the feet either all at once or via repetitive impacts)
- Abnormalities in foot structure (e.g. flat feet, high arches) that place excess strain on elements of the foot
- Ill-fitting footwear, or shoes that put to much pressure on certain areas of the foot
- Excess weight
- Heel spurs
If you or a loved one is experiencing persistent heel pain, it is unlikely to just go away on its own. The sooner the causes can be diagnosed and treated, the less likely that the heel pain will continue to persist or become more severe. We’ll be happy to schedule an appointment with you, as well as answer any initial questions you may have.
What is plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. The condition is based in the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the underside of the foot to connect the heel bone with the base of the toes.
The plantar fascia flexes, and stores and releases as we walk, aiding greatly in movement. But if something strains the plantar fascia – either all at once or over a period of repetitive stress and impacts – then tiny tears can develop, leading to aggravation and pain.
One of the most common symptoms of plantar fasciitis is heel pain that hits as soon as you get out of bed or start moving after a long period of activity. This is due to the plantar fascia being forced to stretch again after a period of rest and recovery. Usually, that initial pain will start to recede after a few minutes of movement.
If you suspect you have plantar fasciitis – or any other form of heel pain, for that matter – contact us for an appointment. The sooner we can identify the source of the problem and begin effective treatment, the sooner you can begin finding relief!
What is a bunion?
Most people are familiar with a bunion being a hard bump along the side of the big toe—but what exactly is happening in there?
The bump of a bunion forms at the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, where the big toe connects with the rest of the foot.
An instability in the MTP joint can cause the big toe to gradually shift inward toward the second toe. As this shift occurs, the MTP joint becomes larger and starts to stick out, often becoming painful and inflamed in the process.
It typically takes a long time for the joint to significantly shift and the bunion bump to grow, but the steady pressure that can occur from shoes and walking can be enough to make it happen. Many people with bunions inherited an abnormality in their foot structure that has made the condition much more likely to occur.
Fun fact: the word “bunion” comes from the Greek word for “turnip,” as the bump tends to look red and round like the vegetable.
Do I need surgery to get rid of a bunion?
There are no conservative treatments that will reverse the progression of a bunion. A surgical procedure is the only way that a bunion can be corrected.
That said, many bunions can be effectively managed via conservative means. While this does not eliminate the bunion, it can relieve symptoms and greatly slow or stop its progression. This makes the need for surgery – and the long weeks of recovery it would require – unnecessary.
Do not let a fear of bunion surgery keep you from receiving the help you need. We will always consider whether conservative management of your bunion will be better for you, and will only discuss surgery if other methods do not provide the results you need.
What should I do if I hurt my foot or ankle during activity?
If you have a suspected sports injury to your foot or ankle, the most important thing you can do for yourself is stop your activity. Do not try to “walk it off” or push through any pain. Continuing to stress your foot or ankle can lead to even greater damage and a higher potential for complications in the future.
Once you have stopped, begin RICE therapy:
- Keep weight off the affected foot or ankle as much as possible.
- Apply ice or a cold pack for 10-20 minutes, three or more times per day. Take care not to expose your skin directly to the source of cold you are using – wrap it in a thin towel to help prevent cold damage.
- Wrap the injured area properly using an elastic bandage. Make sure not to wrap too tightly as to impede circulation. If you are not confident in compression wrapping or know someone who is, this step can be skipped.
- Keep the injured area at or above the level of your heart whenever you are sitting or lying down. Propping your foot up on some pillows can be an effective way to elevate.
RICE therapy within the first 48 hours of an injury can have a significant impact on pain and swelling. However, if you are not seeing marked improvement in your condition within a day or two – or you have any concerns whatsoever – give us a call. We’ll be happy to advise you on further treatment or recommend you come in for a professional evaluation.
What is the difference between a fracture and a sprain?
A fracture is any break that occurs in a bone. Most people imagine a fracture that travels fully through a bone, but cracks that develop along the surface also count (they’re known as stress fractures).
A sprain is when a ligament that connects a bone to other bones is overstretched or torn. Sprains most frequently occur in the ankle.
Both injuries can hurt quite a bit, depending on their severity. In some cases, you might not be fully certain whether you have a fracture or a bad sprain.
The best advice for these situations is: it doesn’t fully matter at that moment! If you are in enough pain to wonder whether you have broken something or just badly sprained it, you’re in a position that needs professional care. Call us promptly and avoid bearing weight on the injured area as much as possible.
But just in case you’re still curious, a sprain is more likely to cause pain in the soft tissue of the area, instead of directly over a bone. You may also be more likely to walk with a sprain (but again, you shouldn’t!).
Skin and Nail
How do I get rid of toenail fungus?
A fungal toenail infection can be a very stubborn condition to get rid of – especially on your own.
Although there are a number of home remedies suggested for toenail fungus, they don’t tend to yield consistent results. We highly recommend a course of professional treatment instead.
There are a few different options for fungal toenail treatment. Depending on what we find during our examination, we may recommend one or more of them:
- Laser treatment is able to hit fungus directly without damaging surrounding tissue.
- Topical treatments, using creams or ointments directly on the nails
- Oral treatment, using anti-fungal pills that attack the fungus from the bloodstream
Not every option is ideal for all cases, and we may recommend using two or all options simultaneously for best results in more severe infections.
Even when the fungus has been completely eradicated, it will still take time for new, clear nails to grow and replace those that the fungus left thick, brittle, and discolored. Taking action as early as possible is the best way to see faster results, so do not hesitate to contact us even if you aren’t yet sure you have toenail fungus. We’ll make sure to properly identify the problem (if there is one) and take the proper steps toward treatment.
When should I see a podiatrist for an ingrown toenail?
To be clear, right from the start, we will always be happy to see any patient regarding an ingrown toenail, no matter how mild or severe it may be.
That said, many people prefer to treat mild ingrown toenails at home, and that is often perfectly fine. There are certain conditions, however, when we highly recommend professional treatment instead:
- Your ingrown toenail is too painful to deal with on your own.
- Your toe shows signs of infection (e.g. severe pain, pus discharge, red streaks around the area).
- You have diabetes, poor circulation, or other conditions that can give even minor injuries a higher risk of complication.
- You keep getting ingrown toenails no matter what you do.
Some patients are understandably hesitant to see us for ingrown toenail problems because they fear that, if things already hurt now, they will hurt even more with treatment. But that’s not true! We have the tools to make treatment much more comfortable than it is at home, and you will always feel much better once the ingrown nail is properly dealt with.