When You Should See a Podiatrist
When it comes to mobility, issues involving the feet and ankles can be the most debilitating conditions patients can face.
Unfortunately, these types of conditions aren’t uncommon. A 2014 survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association found roughly 77% of Americans ages 18 and over have experienced foot problems at some point in their lives. Furthermore, only 24% of adults have actually consulted a podiatrist on their foot problems.
Perhaps part of the problem is a lack of familiarity with podiatry — after all, only 56% of those polled said they were familiar with podiatry as a field.
What is a podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a physician or surgeon who specializes in treating disorders and ailments of the foot and ankle, which can include any structural issues that cause pain or discomfort. According to the APMA, podiatrists complete four years of podiatric medical school plus an additional three years of hospital residency, just like other physicians.
Some common conditions treated by podiatrists include:
- Pain or discomfort in the foot and ankles
- Nail infections and ingrown nails
- Fungal infections of the feet or nails
- Gout and arthritis
- Fallen arches (flat feet)
- Complications from diabetes
- Ankle and knee problems
Doctors of podiatric medicine (or DPMs) can specialize in a variety of fields, including sports medicine, diabetes, surgery, or wound care, to name a few.
When should I see a podiatrist?
One common question from patients is whether they should see a podiatrist or an orthopedist. A good rule of thumb is to visit a podiatrist for any issues related to the feet or ankles — any other part of the body should be examined by an orthopedist.
Schedule an appointment with a podiatrist if any of the following issues last longer than one or two days:
- Lasting pain, numbness, or swelling of the feet. Generally speaking, occasional soreness or swelling after some physical activity is perfectly normal. However, if the pain persists, you should schedule an appointment. Any pain that inhibits your mobility could be a sign of structural problems, such as a fracture, sprain, or tear.
- Nail or foot fungus. This can include conditions such as athlete’s foot, which can be treated with over-the-counter medication, but severe cases could require a prescription. Regardless, any fungus should be treated immediately; nail fungus in particular could spread to other nails.
- Bunions, corns, and callouses. Bunions are bumps on the joint of the big toe that are more painful as they get bigger, while corns and callouses are thickened, hardened pieces of skin that can become painful as the skin becomes thicker. A podiatrist will be able to treat or remove all of these common issues.
- Ingrown nails. These usually occur when the nail is cut unevenly, causing it to grow back into the flesh, causing a great deal of pain and discomfort. Do not attempt to remove these yourself — always leave it to the professionals.
- Patients with diabetes often require regular foot examinations to prevent complications such as nerve damage and poor circulation.
Ready to make an appointment?
Dr. Jeffrey Fleischli specializes in podiatric medicine and sees patients from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Rushville Outpatient Specialty Clinic, 238 S. Congress St. To schedule an appointment with him, call (217) 357-8500. If you have other medical concerns and need to see a provider, our team is here to help. Contact us and schedule a general appointment today.