Frequently Asked Questions
Why choose a foot and ankle expert?
A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) is a doctor specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of foot disorders resulting from injury or disease. With advanced and specialized training in the study of the lower limb, Doctors of Podiatric Medicine are among the elite specialists in caring for your feet and ankles.
Podiatry is a branch of medicine devoted to the medical and surgical treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle, and lower extremity.
A Podiatric physician diagnoses and treats patients, prescribes medications and performs surgery. As the human foot may be the first area to show signs of serious conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, the podiatric physician is often the first to identify symptoms of these disorders.
What education and training do Doctors of Podiatric Medicine undergo?
The Doctor of Podiatric Medicine or DPM is the healthcare professional most qualified to care for your feet. The DPM’s training focuses on the medical and surgical treatment of the foot and ankle. From sports injuries and diabetes complications to pediatric deformities and reconstructive surgery, the Podiatrist is able to treat all of your foot and ankle needs.
Doctors of podiatric medicine receive four years of undergraduate education, four years of medical education at one of nine podiatric medical colleges, and specialized hospital-based residency training.
Podiatrists are required to take state and national exams, as well as be licensed by the state in which they practice.
What do Podiatrists treat?
Podiatrists treat conditions of the skin, muscles, tendons and bones using conservative and surgical treatments. All injuries of the foot and ankle are treated including fractures, sprains, wounds and infections. Podiatrists work closely with primary care physicians and specialists of infectious diseases, vascular surgeons, endocrinologists, neurologists, and many others.
Is foot pain normal?
Your feet are not supposed to hurt. If you are experiencing foot or ankle pain or notice a change in your feet, it is important that you seek podiatric medical care as soon as possible. If you wait, the problem may worsen and become harder to treat or the problem could be a sign of another medical issue. With proper diagnosis, intervention and care, most foot and ankle problems can be corrected.
When should I bring my child to see a podiatrist?
- Your child avoids activities that involve running, walking or standing.
- Your Child Complains of Foot Pain or Discomfort.
- Your child complains of tired or sore legs. Leg discomfort can result from gait issues, foot misalignment and other podiatry problems.
- Your child exhibits disordered walking or standing behaviors.
- Your child sustains a foot or ankle injury.
Why do my feet hurt in the morning?
A common time to experience heel pain is in the morning when you get out of bed. You may have difficulty with your first steps and then the pain may slowly ease.
Most heel pain comes from a band on the bottom of the foot known as the plantar fascia which supports your foot and arch. While sleeping or sitting, the band contracts. When you begin to take steps, the contracted fascia band pulls hard against your heel bone. The pain is from swelling of the fascia band where it attaches to the heel and the surrounding nerves that produce the pain.
Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the plantar fascia, which is a band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that helps with arch support. When the plantar fascia becomes tight after a period of rest, it can cause intense sharp pain to the bottom of the heel. Stretching the plantar fascia can elongate the tightened, contracted band of tissue and alleviate heel pain. Doing a heel stretch on a daily basis, such as a runner’s stretch or towel stretch, can lengthen the plantar fascia and prevent heel pain from occurring in the morning when getting out of bed.
Why does my bunion hurt?
A bunion is a prominent bone on the side of the big toe joint caused by abnormal tendon/muscle balancing in the foot. Many people experience pain from pressure on the boney prominence in shoes as well as irritation to a nerve that runs along the side of the foot. A fluid-filled sac called a bursa can develop causing redness, swelling and pain. Some people can have a bunion with no symptoms, but later in life develop a painful bunion. Splints, orthotics and medication can help provide relief; however, surgical intervention will actually correct the bunion deformity.
What causes my ankles to swell?
Swelling in the legs, ankles and feet, also called edema, is most commonly due to high blood pressure, heart and lung disease, and problems with the veins in the legs. If left untreated, swelling in the lower limbs can cause pain and even open wounds.
Why do I get cramps in my legs when I walk?
In some cases, blood vessels in the legs cannot deliver enough oxygen to the muscles due to plaque buildup or narrowing of the walls of the blood vessels. This can cause cramping in the legs while walking, also known as claudication. Leg cramps in the calf muscles can be a sign of peripheral vascular disease, also known as PAD and should be evaluated by a podiatrist.
How do I know if I have good blood flow in my feet?
A podiatrist can check the two main blood vessels that circulate blood to your feet. A weak pulse to your feet can be a sign of poor circulation. Other signs that can be indicative of poor blood flow are lack of hair growth, thin and shiny skin, brittle nails, and dark skin discoloration. Symptoms you could be experiencing with poor blood flow include cramping in your legs after walking a certain distance, and pain while lying in bed that is only relieved with hanging your legs to the side.
Why is it important for people with diabetes to see a podiatrist?
If you have diabetes, it is important to have your feet checked by a podiatrist. People with diabetes can develop neuropathy which is the burning, tingling, or numbness of the feet. A person with diabetic neuropathy can have open sores on their feet and not realize it. Having a podiatrist check your feet for wounds, evaluate nerve sensation, and assess circulation are all very important for prevention of infection.
Is there a cure for diabetic neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is common in people with diabetes and presents as a burning, tingling, or numbness to the feet. Initially it starts in the toes and continues up the foot. Although there are topical and oral medications to help control symptoms of diabetic neuropathy there is no cure. People with well controlled blood sugar levels have less severity of symptoms for peripheral neuropathy but it could still recur if the person has irregular or high blood sugar levels.
Why do I have pain in the arches of my feet?
Painful arches are a common foot problem that present as a throbbing or stabbing pain to the bottom of the arch and hurt the most when walking or exercising. It can occur in one or both of the arches. People with flat foot or “fallen arches” very commonly have arch pain. However, people with a very high arch can experience arch pain as well. In most cases, the source of arch pain comes from tendons and muscles in the foot that are not working properly. These tendons that help support the arch become fatigued and cause pain. Without treatment, these fatigued tendons can actually tear or allow the arch to fully collapse. Custom arch supports or orthotics can be made to keep the arch stabilized allowing the tendons that support the arch to work in the correct position.
What are “fallen arches?”
“Fallen arches” is a common term used for a person with flat feet. Flat feet can be caused by a muscle/tendon imbalance in the foot. Fallen arches can be hereditary or it can develop slowly over time. Some people do not have pain with flat feet, however, some people can develop severe pain. A person with flat feet can have pain in his or her arch or instep, along the ball of the foot, or even experience knee pain. Custom insoles, arch supports or orthotics can help provide stability for flat feet.
Is it normal for children to have flat feet?
Most children have flat feet from birth to approximately the age of 6 or 7. As children get older, they develop a normal gait and their arch will also develop. In-toeing is also normal in kids between the ages of 4-6 as they develop a normal gait. Therefore, initially some kids may walk “knock knee” and have a flatter arch. However, some children will complain of pain in their arch or along the sides of their leg which is not normal. When children have pain associated with their flat foot condition or in-toeing gait, then you should see a podiatrist. Custom orthotics are a conservative treatment for children with flat feet that complain about pain in their arches.
What is a custom orthotic?
A custom orthotic is a shoe insert that is made to exactly fit the contour of your foot. Orthotics are used for a variety of foot conditions including heel pain, flat feet, pain in the ball of the foot, high arched feet, various ligament and tendon injuries, diabetes, arthritis and many more. They are made by taking a cast mold of the foot, which is sent to a lab for precise fitting of the shape of the foot with specialized prescription modifications that help the foot to function in its most ideal position.
Orthotics work by decreasing high pressure areas, stabilizing the foot alignment and cushioning the foot. They also help to stabilize the foot during the walking cycle to adjust abnormalities in walking. Orthotics will not permanently change your anatomy and will function only when walking or standing on them. Orthotics complement other treatments such as physical therapy, stretching, icing, anti-inflammatory medicines and in some cases surgical correction of the foot.
Consistently wearing orthotics for a period of time will help realign your feet and allow healing to occur as well as help prevent future problems. Custom orthotics can last for up to 7 years.
How long do custom orthotics take to make?
The time needed for custom orthotics to be made and return to our office is approximately 2-3 weeks.
Does toenail polish cause fungus?
Toenail polish alone does not cause fungal infections. Leaving toenail polish on for long periods of time can make it difficult to know if a fungus has infected the nail. In early stages of fungal infections, the nail may appear only discolored. If you are unable to observe what the nail looks like for weeks or months, a fungus can infect the nail without you knowing it and continue to grow.
Once the fungus infects the nail, it will cause discoloration, thickening and loosening of the nail plate. The presence of toenail polish makes treatment of fungus with topical treatments more ineffective as medication cannot penetrate the nail plate properly to treat the infected skin underneath the toenail. In most cases, an additional treatment such as oral anti-fungal medication or laser toenail therapy needs to be added for the most effective results.
Can fungus spread to other toes?
Fungal infections can present on the skin or the toenails but they differ in appearance.A fungal skin infection, or athlete’s foot, can appear as dry scaling skin to the bottom of the foot and/or between the toes or as small blisters with burning and redness. Toenail fungus causes thickening of the nail as well as a yellowish, brown or white discoloration and causes debris underneath the nail. If an infection starts on the skin or in one of the toenails, it can spread to the other nails if not treated properly. Topical antifungal creams treat skin infections, and nail fungal infections are best treated with a combination of topical or oral antifungals and laser therapy.
Do Podiatric Physicians treat sport related injuries?
The demands made on your feet and lower limbs can lead to a range of injuries, including blisters, sprained ankles, torn ligaments, shin splints, knee pain, low back pain and other joint or muscle problems. Added to these are common complaints such as corns, calluses and Athlete’s foot.
A podiatrist can not only help treat your current foot or ankle pain, but provide you with helpful tips to prevent future sports injuries.
How long does it take to recover from foot surgery?
The length of time it takes to recover from foot surgery depends on the type of surgery being performed. An ingrown toenail procedure may cause pain for the day the procedure is performed. Patients may require soft footwear or shoes that do not put pressure on the toenail for 1-2 days after the procedure.
However, if you are having a bunionectomy or hammertoe surgery, that is a longer recovery. Most of the time the recovery period is 4-6 weeks in a specialized post-op shoe. This shoe does not allow any bending in the front part of the foot, allowing the surgery site to heal. During the healing process you would be able to put full weight on your foot with the post-op shoe.
It is important before you decide to go ahead with foot surgery to plan to have the appropriate amount of time needed to heal. Your recovery will be longer and more painful if you try to rush back to work or life too quickly.
What should I bring to my first appointment?
- Picture ID
- Insurance card(s)
- Referral forms (if required)
- List of all prescription and over-the-counter medications that you are currently taking
- Any required co-payment
- Pertinent medical and surgical history information.