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Foot Pain: Do I Really Need To See A Podiatrist?

Updated on February 8, 2011

It's estimated that 75% of the American population will experience some kind of foot issue before they die.  Granted, many of these "issues" will be of the minor variety but this is still a remarkable stat.  The question we're going to consider today revolves around professional medical treatment of the feet.  How can one tell whether or not the services of a podiatrist are required?

There are essentially three things to think about when deciding if you need a podiatrist to treat your feet:  Pain, Infection and Diabetes

A Pain In The... Foot

Pain is the first thing you need to consider.  A surprising number of people actually believe that living with foot pain is normal!  This isn't the case at all.  You should be able to carry on day to day operations without pain in your feet.  You should also be able to walk around barefoot in your own home without hurting.  Now, depending on the specific foot issue you're dealing with, there are effective home remedies you can do yourself.  Corns and callus's, for example can often be removed with over the counter medications from Dr. Scholls or Clear Away.  A warm Epsom salt bath can also help cure the same ailments.  Even more serious conditions like plantar fasciitis can be sorted out without seeing a podiatrist.  A quick Google search for "Plantar Fasciitis stretches" will yield a handful of solid exercises you can perform to rid yourself of this irritating pain.  If the home remedies don't heal your pain, though, it's time to set up an appointment with a licensed podiatrist.

Foot Infections Are Serious

Redness.  Swelling.  Oozing.  Hooray! You have a foot infection!  These need to be taken seriously.  There are a number of different conditions that fall under the umbrella of "foot infection".  The most common ones are plantar warts and Athlete's Foot.  Like corns, there are home treatments for both of these infections available at drug stores.  You really need to keep a close eye on the problem, though.  If the self treatment doesn't improve the infection, call a podiatrist.  The same rule applies for treatment of a thick, discolored smelly fungal nail.  Sorting out any infection as soon as possible is always a good idea.  If left untreated, an foot infection can actually make it's way into the joints - causing a bout of painful arthritis.

Diabetes + Foot Problem = Call A Podiatrist!

If you're a diabetic, any foot problem should prompt an immediate call to your podiatrist or doctor.  This is due to the complex relationship between diabetes and the feet.  Cases of peripheral neuropathy, for example, are common in the diabetic community.  This condition is also quite difficult to diagnose and can be serious.  A professional needs to confirm and treat this issue quickly.  There is also a chance that the foot issues you're dealing with are related to circulation.  It's not uncommon for diabetic people's lower leg arteries to narrow.

You don't always need to call in a professional.  The guideline above should give you an idea of when you can do it on your own, and when you should seek the advice of a podiatrist.


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    • sfpodiatrist profile image

      sfpodiatrist 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi HBAqueen,

      The answer is yes! I can't tell you how many people let foot pain fester, thinking it will go away on it's own. The problem is that as we age, our body's ability to repair itself is degraded. And when you combine this with the fact that our feet take on constant physical pressure, waiting a recipe for disaster. Go see your podiatrist! And feel free to visit my page to learn more. San Francisco Podiatrist:)