Why See A Podiatrist?
Sometimes in life it’s easy to know when you need professional help. If your car engine is producing smoke, you need to go to a mechanic. If you’re being sued, you need a lawyer. And if you have a medical issue, you need to see a doctor. Depending on the nature of your medical problem, you may need to see a specialist. When it’s your foot or ankle in pain—or unable to function normally—you need to see a podiatrist.
What Is A Podiatrist?
Podiatrists are doctors who are trained and specialize in treating problems in the lower limbs. We have earned our doctorates in podiatric medicine (DPM) and are board-certified by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine and/or the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.
In a very general sense, a major reason to come in and see a podiatrist is foot or ankle pain – but you need to keep in mind this covers a lot of ground.
Your feet are, after all, very complicated structures. To start, each of your feet and ankles have 26 bones—together, this constitutes just over one-quarter of all the bones in your body! Connecting and moving those bones are more than 100 different ligaments, tendons, and muscles. In order to provide optimal movement, all of those pieces combine to form 33 joints.
Think about it for a second and you’ll realize there is a lot of opportunity for things to go wrong!
Of course, structure is only part of the story. Another major factor in foot and ankle problems is the amount of force we place upon them.
You might not be aware of this, but every day your feet endure tremendous force loads. When you take a step, the landing foot ends up absorbing forces that are equal to about 2-4 times your bodyweight…and that’s just when we walk. Running places an even higher amount of force on the landing foot!
Given that the average person on an average day takes roughly 10,000 steps, your feet absorb a cumulative force load of several tons every day!
Now, feet are naturally equipped to handle those forces, but there are many different situations, conditions, and structural abnormalities that can negatively affect their ability to do so. When this is the case, you should make a visit to either our Holland or St. Joseph office for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Why Should I See A Podiatrist?
There’s obviously a lot of reasons why you might need to see a podiatrist, and we haven’t even mentioned anything about skin and nail issues yet!
Internal foot and ankle injuries are common enough, but perhaps even more so are problems like ingrown toenails, athlete’s foot, and fungal nail infections.
We have one more major area of foot care that can be impacted by anatomical structure, physical force loads, and skin and toenail conditions, and this is diabetic foot care.
Diabetes is a disease that causes widespread, systemic damage in the human body. We realize it’s easy to think about how diabetes can increase the risk for heart attacks, strokes, and blindness, but it would be a mistake to underestimate the connection between the disease and foot health.
Put simply, you need to make an appointment with Northwood Foot and Ankle Center if you are diabetic – even if you aren’t experiencing any foot pain at this time. You have a high risk for various serious medical conditions, specifically Charcot foot and diabetic foot ulcers. We will help you establish a plan to protect your feet and provide the tools for you to catch problems at their earliest, most treatable stages.
Protection and early intervention are the pillars of an effective diabetic foot care plan.
We’ve looked fairly extensively at the general reasons why you might need to come in and see a podiatrist at our practice. Now let’s delve into how you should know when it’s time to request an appointment.
When Should I See A Podiatrist?
Since we cannot overstate the importance of this – if you are diabetic, you should come in for an appointment as soon as possible. Diabetic foot ulcers are very dangerous and you need to reduce the risk of developing one.
For those who do not live with diabetes, you should contact our office whenever foot or ankle pain has developed.
No matter if it has a sudden onset or is something that arises over time, foot pain is not normal and shouldn’t be considered “not a big deal.” Remember, pain is how your body lets you know there is a problem that needs to be resolved!
We can make a plan to resolve that pain so you can go back to your favorite activities (and make the mandatory ones less miserable).
On the other hand (or foot), an inability to feel pain in your lower limbs is also an indication of a problem. In this case, the issue is neuropathic in nature. Your feet rely on an array of peripheral nerves that report physical sensations back to your spinal column and brain. If those nerves are not functioning, you may experience nerve pain (tingling, burning, and other abnormal sensations) or numbness.
We get that it might seem like an inability to feel pain isn’t a bad thing, but think about it this way – if you can feel your hand getting hot, you realize it’s on the oven burner and you need to take it off STAT! So pain can actually be a useful tool.
This is something we touched on with regards to diabetes and foot care, but keep in mind that medical issues are often most easily treated in early stages and become more of a challenge when left unaddressed, so contact Northwood Foot and Ankle Center today if you are aware of a problem.
Our team will work to accurately diagnose the problem and then create a customized treatment plan to address it for you. Further, we will take any available measures to prevent future recurrence.
We want you to live life on your terms. Your feet take you where you want to go and allow you to do what you want to do – take good care of them!
For information about our practice or to request an appointment, give us a call at (616) 393-8886 and one of our team members will be happy to help.