When should I visit my podiatrist (or chiropodist)?
Patients often ask us how they will know when they need professional help for their foot conditions. Our podiatrist, Baljit Brar, offers some useful answers to the question when should I visit my podiatrist (or chiropodist)?
If you have diabetes
People who have diabetes often have decreased sensation (neuropathy) and reduced blood supply within the lower limb and foot. This can lead to a range of problems from dry skin to serious infections. If you have diabetes, you should have a foot exam performed by your gp or podiatrist at least once a year. Studies have shown that having a podiatrist as part of your healthcare team lowers the risk of amputation due to diabetes.
When your foot or lower limb pain is limiting your activities
If you enjoy regular exercise, be it walking, running or participating in a sport, you may be prone to aches and pains from conditions such as shin splints and heel pain (from plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, etc). However, you do not have to be an exercise junkie to suffer from some of these conditions and they can limit your everyday activities. Either way, a podiatrist can recommend a treatment plan and strategies to avoid them and can also recommend the best types of shoe for you.
When you have joint pain in your feet or ankles
Arthritis is one of the most common problems treated by podiatrists. If the joints in your feet are often swollen, red, stiff or tender you should see your gp or a podiatrist. Arthritis can change the way the feet function and lead to disability. A podiatrist can suggest treatments that may preserve joint health and reduce pain.
When you have damaged or ingrown toenails
Sometimes nails become damaged as a result of trauma, nail infections or even ill-fitting shoes. This can cause the nail to lift or to grow abnormally. Also, when a toenail grows into the skin, the ingrown nail can become painful and cause an infection. If you are in pain and/or if the surrounding area is inflammed or there is a discharge you should visit a podiatrist for treatment. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove part or all of the nail in which case a local anaesthetic can be used.
When you have corns, callus (hard skin) or cracked skin
Corns and callus are some of the most common reasons people visit a podiatrist. These areas of built-up skin can be painful if they get too thick. Your podiatrist will reduce their size using a surgical blade. The procedure isn’t painful because the skin is dead. Unsightly cracks, also known as fissures, can also develop on the heel of the foot. This is an extremely common foot complaint but one which is often ignored. If the fissure is deep it can be painful and prone to infections. Regular care from a podiatrist can help the healing process.
When you have a painful bunion
A bump at the base of the big toe is known as a bunion. It occurs when the bone or joint of the big toe is out of place. Bunions tend to get worse unless they’re treated. A podiatrist can suggest treatments, such as padding, taping or medication. Surgery is also an option in severe cases.
When you have persistent athlete’s foot
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection which can make the skin between your toes look scaly and feel itchy. Over-the-counter antifungal cream may help. However, if the infection doesn’t seem to improve after a couple of weeks you should visit a podiatrist.
When you have verrucae
Warts and verrucae are small rough cauliflower like growths which can affect any area of the skin. Verrucae are generally found on the soles of the feet and toes and can present in clusters or singularly. A podiatrist may use a number of treatments including high strength salicylic acid and silver nitrate and excision all of which are generally more successful than over the counter remedies.
If you are still in doubt or you are suffering from any other foot or lower limb problem that has not be covered above please do not hesitate to contact our Podiatrist, Baljit Brar, on Tel: 020 8977 3295. To make an appointment with Baljit please contact our reception team on the same number.