One-quarter of the bones in the human body are in our feet. In other words, the foot is a complex structure of 26 bones and 33 joints, with more than 120 muscles, ligaments, and nerves. Our feet have many benefits, as they support our weight, act as a shock absorber, serve as a lever to allow our legs to move forward, and help us maintain our balance.
During a typical day, the average person takes about 10,000 steps, which means that our feet support a combined force equivalent to several hundred tons every day, resulting in possible injury and pain. Statistics show that 75 percent of Americans will experience foot problems at some point in their lives. The question then arises, what can a podiatrist do for you?
What is a podiatrist?
Podiatrists are health care professionals who have been trained to prevent, diagnose and treat common conditions and injuries affecting the foot, ankle and lower leg. Depending on their credentials – such as certifications, state license, or hospital affiliation – podiatrists can perform surgery on the bones, ligaments, tendons and joints of the foot and ankle. Podiatrists treat many conditions related to the foot, ankle and leg, including:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Morton’s neuroma
- Corn and calluses
- Heel pain
- Athlete’s foot
- Flat feet
- Sports injuries
- Hammer toes
- Ingrown toenails
When should you go to a podiatrist?
Foot and ankle problems can be due to chronic medical conditions like arthritis or diabetes, or from everyday situations, such as overuse or poorly fitting shoes. A person warrants a visit to the podiatrist if they are experiencing acute or chronic pain in the foot and ankle, or if they are suffering from an injury or condition, such as diabetes. You should go to a podiatrist for the following reasons:
- Runners: A podiatrist can examine your feet and address any potential problems, or provide tips to avoid them. They can also recommend the best shoe for your feet.
- Joint pain: Arthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting Americans. If the joints in your feet are often swollen, red, stiff or tender, see a podiatrist.
- Diabetes: Diabetes makes you significantly more prone to foot problems. These issues can range from dry skin to serious infections. If you have diabetes, you should have a foot exam performed by a doctor or podiatrist at least once a year.
- The pain is limiting your activities: If you have persistent pain in your foot, heel, or ankle, see a podiatrist for a diagnosis. He or she will perform a foot exam and may take X-rays. A proper diagnosis is the first step toward developing a treatment plan.
- Ingrown toenail: When a toenail grows into the skin, the ingrown nail can cause an infection. Ingrown toenails most often affect the big toe. If a toenail is very red or has lots of drainage, visit a podiatrist for treatment.
- Have a sprain, strain, or broken bone: If you are experiencing swelling, trouble walking, redness, and increasing pain, it is suggested that you see a podiatrist. Podiatrists are experts at treating sprains, strains, and broken bones in the foot or the ankle. They can diagnose your injury and suggest treatment.
If you are experiencing pain in your foot, ankle or leg, call Colorado Center of Orthopaedic Excellence at (719) 623-1050 to request an appointment with our podiatrist.