Let’s address the elephant in the room— no one wants to go to the doctor. Whether it’s going to the dentist for a toothache or visiting the dermatologist for a rash, most of us avoid making an appointment until absolutely necessary.
But when is absolutely necessary? When it comes to your feet and ankles, you’re probably hoping the problem goes away on its own. Whether it’s that achy heel or a stubbed toe, you convince yourself that a little R&R is the answer. And sometimes it is…. But other times, it’s not.
Without treatment, some otherwise short-term foot and ankle recoveries could lead to chronic pain or cause bigger issues down the line. And those with pre-existing conditions may especially be putting themselves at much higher risk by not addressing the problem straight away!
Here are seven reasons it might be time to see a podiatrist:
1. You are experiencing foot numbness.
If your arm or leg suddenly goes numb, you might think, “Am I about to have a stroke?!” But when you have pins and needles in your feet, you assume it’s nothing, don’t you? Maybe it “fell asleep” from sitting cross-legged too long or our shoes are too tight… But those who frequently experience a numb or burning sensation in their feet may be suffering from bigger problems.
Whether it’s a pinched nerve (neuroma) or diabetic neuropathy, regular numbness in your feet isn’t normal. Here are a few major causes of tingling in your feet, most of which require medical attention.
2. You have diabetes or diabetes-related ailments.
Unfortunately, those with diabetes are more susceptible to a large number of foot-related concerns than those without the condition. That’s because diabetes sufferers often lack blood flow to their lower extremities or experience nerve damage caused by poor insulin regulation which makes it harder for them to feel pain in their feet and ankles.
In addition to the big players like diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease, diabetics are also more susceptible to experience complications from secondary diabetic foot conditions like foot ulcers and infections.
Translation: if you’re diabetic, you need more vigilant foot and ankle care. It’s extremely important to have a podiatrist examine you at least once a year. While there are everyday care tips you can perform at home, for our higher-risk diabetics, we recommend routine 9-week check-ins.
3. Your heel pain won’t go away.
Heel pain is a more common ailment than you might think. Because this pain is associated with a long list of foot and ankle conditions— like Plantar Fasciitis, Posterior Tibial Tendonitis, Achilles Tendonitis, a heel spur, etc.— or a result of injury, lots of Americans are walking around with aching heels!
But many of the conditions listed above could benefit from professional help offering custom-fitted orthotics, prescription pain relief and therapy. And even heel injuries often need professional counsel to properly heal and not develop into long-term, chronic concerns. Here are five common causes of heel pain to see if you fit the bill.
4. You have an ingrown toenail or nail infection.
Anyone who’s ever experienced an ingrown toenail knows how painful it can be. As the nail grows into your skin, your toe can become inflamed and cause endless discomfort. Untreated ingrown toenails often become infected, which, if it develops into a Staph infection, can spread through the bone structure and result in even more pain! In cases like this, a diagnosis by a podiatrist and antibiotics may be required. From there, a foot doctor can counsel you on how to keep the ingrown nail from growing back in the future.
Other foot infections like athlete’s foot can be picked up at the nail salon or in public spaces where people walk barefoot in high-moisture environments like gym showers or public pools. These types of infections and other bacterial nuances will likely require prescription antibiotics to treat— again, requiring a prognosis from a podiatrist.
5. A foot injury just won’t heal.
Maybe you twisted your ankle on a hike or banged up your toes playing soccer. Injuries happen and we limp them off, but sometimes, our “rub some mud in it” mentality comes back to bite us later.
Without the time to properly heal, injuries like a sprain, strain, or broken bone could persist or even worsen. If the old reliable RICE method just isn’t working, it may be time for you to make an appointment to have your aching pain checked out. From there, a foot doctor can help you set up a recovery plan with bracing, pain relief and therapy, as well as give you a few tips for preventing further injury.
6. Stiffness or arthritis pain is becoming unbearable.
Those who suffer from autoimmune disorders like Rheumatoid arthritis often find their feet are so painfully stiff and the soles of their feet so tender they can’t walk on them without sensitivity— especially in the morning. There’s also the “wear and tear” arthritis, osteoarthritis, that often comes with age. While arthritis isn’t exactly curable, a podiatrist could prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, arch supports, braces and more to lessen the severity of your pain.
7. Previous self-treatment has failed.
Sometimes we think we can solve our own foot problems at home. While this can be true and there are some incredible DIY care options out there, more often than not, home remedies can’t compare to treatments from a podiatrist.
Many of the foot care products you can get at the store only minimize already minor foot problems— like the bunion pads you stick in shoes that ease the pain— but they don’t really solve the issue itself. In order to treat persistent or severe foot or ankle conditions, it’s best to leave the prognosis up to the professionals!
Ready for Professional Foot Care? Here’s What You Can Expect
If you need a sign it’s time to call a podiatrist, this is it!
Nervous about seeing the doctor? Don’t be. Our team at Foot & Ankle is some of the friendliest in Florida. Here’s what you can expect on your first visit so you can come prepared.
Buzz us at 239.936.5400 to book an appointment, today.
Categorized in: Blog