"My feet hurt!" I hear that a lot from my friends, especially after wearing high heels for a long time. And, years ago, I fractured my left foot, so I know how painful foot problems can be. My daughter was a cheerleader in high school, and just before her state competition, she injured her foot. It took her a good while before she could tumble in cheer without being in pain. Problems with your feet can affect people of all ages. I talked to Dr. Doug Schuckmann, a podiatrist with The Christ Hospital Health Network, about common issues and what you should do if you do have trouble with your feet.
Dr. Schuckmann told me the most common foot issues are fractures, sprains, plantar fasciitis, foot/joint and ankle pain, tendinitis, wounds and infections, diabetic foot issues and neuropathy, sports-related injuries, ingrown toenails, warts and athlete's foot.
For any of these issues, Dr. Schuckmann explained the role of a podiatrist as, "A podiatric physician is also a surgeon and treats any type of pathology of the foot, ankle and lower leg. This may include conservative care, medical care or surgery, either in the office, a wound care center or the hospital."
Handling stress fractures
I hear people talk about having stress fractures, but they never seek any care from a specialist for it. They think there is nothing that can be done. Should someone see a podiatrist for these types of injuries? Dr. Schuckmann says YES!
He went on to say this, "A podiatrist is able to care for a stress fracture, (sometimes called a hairline fracture) and even more complicated fractures of the foot and ankle. Depending on the type of fracture or break, treatment may include conservative care such as crutches or a special shoe or cast. More complicated or displaced fractures may require surgery."
Taking care of your feet
I never really thought about foot care until I hurt one of mine. According to Dr. Schuckmann, preventative measures can be taken. "Care varies from patient to patient. Certain patients are considered at risk or at high risk for various types of disease processes or infection. These may include, but are not limited to, people with peripheral vascular disease or poor circulation, diabetics, those who lack protective sensation (which may include neuropathy), and balance or musculoskeletal issues. Obvious care to consider would be appropriate hygiene, appropriate skin and nail care, appropriately fitting shoes. People who are at high risk, including those with diabetes, peripheral vascular disease and other underlying medical conditions, often see Podiatry more frequently as a precaution."
Relieving foot pain
I remember when I was little, my grandmother would always soak her feet when they were sore and she had been on them all day. That seemed like the go-to thing to do. However, there are many other ways to treat foot pain. Dr. Schuckmann said it depends on the type of pain. "Oftentimes, appropriate shoes and socks are all that one needs. Additionally, there are variety type of arch supports, orthotics and pads that can help relieve pain and discomfort depending on the cause and source. Under appropriate medical attention, medications and physical therapy may be needed. And again, depending on the pathology, sometimes surgery may be an option if conservative care fails."
Embarrassed by foot issues
People hope their issues will just go away because they are too embarrassed to go to the podiatrist. That shouldn't be a worry according to Dr. Schuckmann. He said, "Your health and well-being are of utmost importance. Foot issues can be just as debilitating as any other disease process to any other body part. As the old saying goes, 'When your feet hurt, you hurt all over.'"
Diabetes and risk
My grandfather suffered from diabetes, and he was always told to take care of his feet. I wondered if you should she a podiatrist on a regular basis if you are diabetic. Dr. Schuckmann said yes, a podiatrist could help. He added, "A podiatrist is a specialist of the foot and ankle, and, as such, treats any pathology that affects the foot and ankle. This specifically includes diabetics who are often more at risk for lower extremity pathology due to vascular and neurological issues that accompany this disease process."
The bottom line is, there is no reason you should suffer from foot pain. There are several ways to relieve it. Going to see a podiatrist can be the first step! They can help you get back on your feet pain-free.
Schedule an appointment online with Dr. Schuckmann - or learn more about care with The Christ Hospital Physicians - Podiatry.