A podiatrist is a medical professional that specifically diagnoses and treats problems with the feet and ankles. They run solo podiatric clinics or are on staff at hospitals and other health facilities. The initials, D.P.M., after their name indicate that they are a certified Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, and are qualified to care for ailing patients. The most common foot problems range from blisters and bunions to broken bones and bumps. Some issues can be solved by a general physician or orthopedic surgeon, but the best treatments are by podiatrists, who have a training and experience in these and other situations.
We take our feet and ankles for granted, due to the ironic fact that we rely on them so much. We also have the tendency to put off seeking help for any sort of pain, arguing that it will disappear if we wait it out. This is only rarely ever true, and many podiatrists report that their patients admit to wishing they had taken advantage of podiatric services sooner. Foot problems unfortunately tend to be relatively innocuous, and even only slight discomfort can indicate a far greater complication. For example, a bunion can be an indication of poor posture, ill-fitting shoes, or a deformity.
You need to visit a podiatrist especially when something is broken or bent. Some podiatrists are also surgeons, such as Dr. Michael K. James of Idaho Falls Teton Foot and Ankle Center, and they repair fractured bones and twisted ankles. Attempting to walk or otherwise move on broken bones will only increase the damage and can cause permanent harm. Surgery may also be required if an open wound has yet to heal, and there is risk of infection. Such symptoms include swelling, inflammation, and overall pain, and can even cause a fever. Color-changing lesions that bleed or crack also need immediate treatment, especially if they are painful to the touch.
Diabetics in particular need to establish a good relationship and open communication with their podiatrist. Diabetes causes poor circulation and even neuropathy, which destroys the nerves in the feet. Due to the lack of feeling, a person with this disease may not be aware of any significant injuries until it is too late. Amputation is unfortunately not uncommon among those who suffer from diabetes, due to problems like charcotarthropathy, gangrene, and diabetic ulcers. This is why it is all the more important to keep consistent with recommended foot care and to visit a podiatrist regularly.
Other foot or ankle problems include gout, which is type of inflammatory arthritis, and ingrown toenails. This may not seem like a serious issue, but they can be quite painful and in severe cases, the nails will actually grow into the skin, resulting in an infection. In poorly maintained nails, fungus can grow under the surfaces and cause a foul stench with considerable pain. Athlete’s foot is a similar condition and leads to dry skin and terrible itching.
All these issues and more are treated by podiatrists. They have dedicated their professional lives to diagnosing and treating such matters, and are passionate about serving you, their patient. A podiatrist wants what’s best for you and will perform whatever actions are necessary, but you must make the first step of actually making an appointment. Remember that pain is an indicator of something wrong, so listen to your body and visit your foot doctor in Idaho Falls as soon as possible.