Podiatrists are also referred to as doctors of podiatric medicine. You can recognize a podiatrist by the credentials DPM after the name. Podiatrists attend a podiatric medical school, complete a hospital residency and may go on to complete a fellowship. Board certification in podiatry is offered by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine and the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.
If you experience pain, limping, swelling, bruising and/or an inability to bear weight on the foot or ankle, you may have a fracture.
Fractures of the foot or ankle should be assessed by a podiatrist.
Foot fractures can be caused by falls, crush injuries or direct blows. Minor fractures, called stress fractures, can be caused by overuse, often after constant repetitive motions during exercise.
Ankle fractures can range from a simple break in one bone that does not stop you from walking to a more serious injury that pushes the bones out of place and affects the ligaments as well.
An x-ray can help your doctor assess the extent of your fracture. Not all fractures of the foot or ankle require surgery. Some can be treated with a compression dressing, shoe, boot and limits on weight-bearing. A podiatrist can also recommend proper footwear to reduce your chances of stress fractures during exercise.
Bunions are a joint deformity that form at the base of the joint of the big toe. A large bump develops at the joint, which may become red, swollen and sore. The bunion eventually pushes the big toe out of alignment towards the other toes.
Small bunions (bunionettes) can also occur in the joint at the base of the smallest toe.
Bunions can be caused by tight-fitting shoes (especially shoes with a pointed toe), foot injury or heredity.
Depending on the severity of your bunion and the amount of pain it causes, your podiatrist may recommend conservative treatment or surgery. Nonsurgical treatment may involve bunion pads, over-the-counter pain meds, taping or splinting of the toe, or special shoe inserts.
During surgical treatment of bunions, a podiatric surgeon will remove swollen tissue and some bone, realign the big toe, and permanently join the bones of the joint.
Tendonitis is a common foot and ankle condition treated by podiatrists. Tendonitis occurs when the thick cords that connect muscles to bones (tendons) become inflamed. This inflammation can be caused by injury or overuse. The most common symptom is pain, although swelling may be present as well. Tendonitis can affect a variety of tendons in the foot, ankle and calf. Tendonitis is treated nonsurgically.
Torn tendons are also called ruptured tendons. When a tendon ruptures, you may feel a sharp pain and hear a snapping or popping sound. Torn tendons are serious and should be assessed by a podiatrist. Surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes. When this becomes inflamed, it can cause a stabbing pain on the bottom of the foot under the heel. This is called plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is generally worse first thing in the morning, improving as the day goes on. However, it can flare up again if you spend a lot of time on your feet or after exercising.
A podiatrist may recommend physical therapy, night splints, or orthotics (shoe inserts) to treat your plantar fasciitis. In severe cases, injections, surgery or the Tenex procedure (a minimally-invasive procedure to remove scar tissue) may be required.
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