Most everyone suffers from minor foot pain or gets an occasional blister every once in a while. These minor problems typically resolve themselves on their own without any treatment. Sometimes, however, more serious signs and symptoms necessitate the expertise of a foot specialist. Here are some signs that you may need to see a podiatrist as soon as possible.
If you develop foot or ankle swelling, also known as edema, see your foot specialist right away. Edema can be caused by standing on your feet for long periods of time, wearing shoes that are too tight, or consuming a high sodium diet. Sometimes, however, ankle and foot edema can be caused by neurological problems, poor circulation, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and kidney failure.
Your podiatrist will perform a complete physical examination of your legs, ankles, and feet, and if necessary, they will take x-rays. He or she may also perform an ultrasound study on your ankles and feet to determine if you have a blood flow problem that may be responsible for your swelling. If the examination does not uncover the cause of your edema, you will be referred back to your family physician for further testing and treatment.
Toe infections such as those caused by ingrown toenails need to be evaluated and treated by a foot doctor as soon as possible. If you have an ingrown toenail and your toe hurts when you walk, or if the surrounding area is red, inflamed, or is draining pus, then you need to seek treatment right away. Failure to seek treatment for an infected toe can lead to soft tissue damage and may necessitate the removal of your entire toenail.
An infected ingrown toenail is typically treated with antibiotic ointment after the soft tissue in which the toenail is embedded has been successfully excised. In some cases, the podiatrist may be able to remove the ingrown toenail without having to remove any of the soft tissue surrounding it. In addition to a topical antibiotic, the foot doctor may prescribe a course of oral antibiotics to make sure that the infection clears nicely.
If you develop foot or ankle swelling, or if you experience symptoms of a toe infection, make an appointment with your foot doctor as soon as possible. Prompt treatment will help ensure that you don't develop complications such as permanent soft tissue damage, worsening of circulatory problems, increased pain, and severe infection.