3 Foot Ailments That May Be Best Treated By A Podiatrist

A podiatrist is a medical specialist who can diagnose and treat a number of conditions affecting the feet and ankles. Some podiatrists practice sub-specialties as well, such as sports medicine, surgery or diabetic foot care. The following is a list of common conditions pertaining to the feet which a podiatrist may treat:

1. Hammer Toe

A deformity that causes the toe to bend or curl, hammer toe is caused by a middle toe joint that has become deformed. Some individuals are born with this condition while others develop it due to an injury or disease such as arthritis. Improperly fitted shoes may also lead to this condition. It is also know to be hereditary, so if a family member has the condition, the risk of developing it becomes higher.

Hammer toe often causes discomfort, especially when standing or walking. The doctor will take x-rays to make a conclusive diagnosis. For a mild form of the condition, a podiatrist may recommend special shoe inserts and cushions. Foot exercises may help as well. In more severe cases, such as the inability to flex the toes, a podiatrist may recommend surgery to correct the condition.

2. Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus may affect one or both feet. When an individual is affected by toenail fungus, the infection causes discoloration or yellowing of the affected toenail, and possible scaling or hardening of the nail. This may make it difficult to trim the toenail. Once diagnosed, a podiatrist may prescribe special topical medications to kill the fungal infection. Oral medications may be prescribe for more severe cases. In rare cases, the entire toenail may need to be removed.

3. Plantar Fasciitis

This is a condition that causes heel pain from inflamed tissue at the bottom of the foot. The pain may be especially noticeable first thing in the morning upon standing. The condition is most common in those who run or jog, or in individuals who stand on their feet (especially on a hard surface) for long periods of time throughout the day. Wearing shoes that do not provide proper support may also lead to plantar fasciitis. Those who are overweight may also be prone.

The podiatrist may make a conclusive diagnosis after viewing x-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests. Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications may help relieve the painful symptoms. In some cases, physical therapy may be advised, as well as wearing special orthotics designed with custom support and cushioning. This will help alleviate the pressure on the affected foot.  

Talk with a podiatrist like Laurel Podiatry Associates, LLC for more guidance.