Did you know that almost 80% of Americans experience recurring foot problems throughout their lifetimes? That's because this part of the body has no fewer than 8,000 nerves and some of them might get damaged as a result of overuse or injury.
That's why it's important to know the signs of feet problems and when to see a foot specialist. A foot care specialist - aka "podiatrist" - will help you with your foot pain. Keep reading to learn the signs that prompt a doctor's visit as soon as possible.
1. Persistent Pain in Ankles
It's normal to have pain in your feet from time to time. However, most of these pains should be acute, not chronic. If your ankles hurt for more than a week, even if you just sit in bed and do nothing, this is a bad sign.
Chances are that you might have accidentally injured your ankle or caused substantial damage. This can be done when walking, running, or practicing different types of sports. Ignoring the problem is not a good idea as the pain might reduce your productivity and quality of life.
A podiatrist can help you with your persistent pain. It's possible to take certain medications to alleviate the pain and reduce inflammation. You might also wear different types of shoes to prevent ankle pain in the future. There are solutions, so you're not stuck with ankle pain for the rest of your life.
2. Ingrown Toenail
This is a common foot problem among men and women. Some nails grow abnormally and they simply push through the flesh of your toes. This can cause pain, inflammation, and infections. Your gait can be affected, not to mention that you might not be able to practice your favorite sports anymore.
Luckily, an ingrown toenail can be easily treated these days. Your foot specialist might administer medication to alleviate inflammation and pain. If it's necessary, surgery can be performed to remove the nail that is growing abnormally. These procedures are safe, so there's nothing to worry about.
3. Decreased Feeling and Sensations in Your Feet
There are thousands of nerves throughout your body, including the extremities such as your ears and fingers. It's not normal to lose sensation in some of these extremities, especially if you haven't been involved in a serious accident.
If you begin to lose feeling or sensations in your feet, chances are that the nerves are damaged. If the numbness persists for a few days and it might impair your mobility, it's time to see a foot doctor right away. The best foot doctor out there can immediately diagnose your condition and prescribe an appropriate treatment option.
It might be possible that an underlying condition affects the nerves at your lower extremities. You might have also been injured without knowing or some medications you take cause these adverse effects. Seeing a podiatrist is paramount to diagnose this condition.
4. Your Foot Has Swollen Massively
Most people deal with swollen feet at some point in their lives. This might happen if you stand for many hours a day or you walk/run a lot of miles. However, if one of your feet has swollen massively and the swelling doesn't go away overnight, this is a bad sign.
This usually happens because excess fluid accumulates in your feet. It might signify that you have bad blood circulation in your lower extremities or a different underlying condition. Swollen feet can cause great discomfort and pain, that's why you should do something about it right away.
On top of that, having a swollen foot can prevent you from walking properly. You might even have trouble putting your shoes on. Don't let this condition affect the quality of your life and see a foot specialist right away.
5. You Are Diabetic and Have Persistent Foot Pain
Diabetes is a chronic condition. When someone has diabetes, his/her body doesn't process sugar effectively. Sugar is known to cause inflammation and it can damage the nerves in the lower extremities. In worst-case scenarios, diabetes can be a life-threatening disease.
If you're diabetic and also experience foot pain, see a podiatrist. Chances are that the excess sugar in your bloodstream is affecting the tiny nerves in your fingers and feet. Some patients require surgery to remove a numb finger so that the infection doesn't spread to surrounding healthy tissue.
Hopefully, you will never have to get through surgery. There are special medications created for diabetic patients who have foot problems. Your doctor will tell you if it's necessary to readjust your diet or take certain drugs to keep your blood sugar levels in check.
6. Excessive Pain When Walking
Walking is a simple cardio activity. You have done it from a very early age and your body knows how to do it very well. That's why if your feet hurt when you walk, this is not normal. If the problem persists for days, you should see a doctor.
Excessive pain when walking might be caused by swelling, inflammation, or sprains. You might have torn some ligaments or certain nerves in your feet are severely injured. The bottom line is that foot pains that don't go away after a few days are not normal and you shouldn't ignore them.
In most cases, these pains will go away with proper rest for a few days. You might also have to change your shoes or simply don't tie your sneakers that tight. In any case, speak with your podiatrist to see if everything is ok with your feet or you need treatment/rest.
Now You Know When It's the Best Time to See a Foot Specialist
As mentioned earlier, a foot specialist is a medical professional trained to deal with feet problems. Your feet are some of the most important parts of your body. Don't neglect any of the signs we talked about in this article and see a podiatrist if your mobility is restricted or you're in constant pain.
For more tips and tricks on how to deal with foot pain as well as prevent it during your training sessions, check out the other articles on our website.