While many consider podiatry to be an exclusive realm of all things below the ankle, the truth is that treatment of injuries and other problems of the feet affect the whole body. When the biomechanics of walking are misaligned by damage to the feet, it can cause overarching issues in the legs, knees, hips, and back. Chronic pain can reduce the desire to exercise, leading to lethargy and depression.
Help with toe pain
Toes are made up of multiple small bones, ligaments, and muscles. When something in these complicated constructs gets out of place, injured, or torn, the pain can be debilitating. A patient suffering from bunions or hammer toe should seek treatment sooner rather than later. Addressing toe pain earlier on can reduce the need for invasive treatments, and this may make treatment more effective in the long run.
Tendonitis and heel pain
Although tendonitis can happen in several places from the ankles to the toes, it's most commonly diagnosed in the Achilles tendon. This inflammation can cause moderate to severe pain and make even light exercise difficult. It is most often treated with physical therapy, but other treatments can become necessary if the pain is severe. The normal causes are repetitive stress or not taking enough time to stretch before working out.
Leg, knee and back pain
Most people seek out podiatry treatment only after first consulting an orthopedic surgeon about their knee, back, or hip pain. Many patients do not realize that the pain in their lower body may be caused by problems in their feet. Balance, movement, and articulation can be affected by injury or malformation of the feet. By treating the source of the problem, these kinds of injuries can be addressed more effectively than by treating the symptoms with painkillers or antidepressants.
Many patients seeking out the care of a podiatry specialist expect surgery to be a part of their treatment plan. While some issues must be deal with surgically, many can be addressed through less invasive means. X-rays can help pinpoint a diagnosis, and they are often necessary in devising a long-term treatment plan. The options for treatment may range from education about appropriate footwear, to physical therapy, to specialized orthotic inserts.
Preventing podiatry problems
Many patients do not realize that feet change in shape and size long after puberty, unlike most parts of the body. Many podiatry problems can be avoided simply by having the feet measured when buying shoes, and wearing shoes that fit properly, especially for exercise. When there are problems with the shape of the feet, or an injury that causes problems with walking, custom-created orthopedic inserts may correct balance and other issues.
Seeking out orthopedic treatment at the first sign of pain or strain often prior further injury. Foot injuries should be treated promptly to reduce the recovery time and help ensure the fullest possible recovery. Weaving the correct shoes for activity and exercise, and taking the time to stretch and warm up before exercise help prevent injuries.