Until there is a problem, you might be taking your foot health for granted. Problems can develop and even go unnoticed that affect an individual’s quality of life. Despite common misconceptions, your feet have the ability to affect your overall health. You should not ignore foot problems or pain just because they are just on your feet. Frequently, problems that occur within the feet are indicators of your overall health. Foot health becomes even more important in diabetics and older adults because of changes that occur to blood flow and feeling.
“Once problems occur, they can be even more difficult to treat. It is best to be proactive with your foot health to prevent long term complications,” according to Mindi Feilmeier, DPM, FACFAS.
The best thing you can do for the health of your feet is practice good foot hygiene and inspect them daily. Examples of this include wearing clean socks, thoroughly washing the feet and proper nail care. Supportive shoes should be worn when walking or standing. It is also important that the shoes fit well and are comfortable. A podiatrist can evaluate your foot type and recognize potential concerns as well as recommend specific treatments and shoes. Regular inspections of your feet can help you identify areas that may require the help of a podiatrist. If you notice redness, swelling, sores that do not heal or pain for more than a day or two, you should seek medical attention. Things that a podiatrist may look for in a foot exam include deformities, skin color and temperature changes, sores, level of circulation and feeling or sensitivity.
A podiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of foot, ankle and lower leg disorders and may use different test and studies, such as labs and X-rays to determine what the diagnosis is.
“A podiatric physician can address all of your foot and ankle problems, and work with your other health care providers to keep you healthy and active” says Dr. Feilmeier. “As a specialist, I deal with foot and ankle disorders every day and can usually help patients feel better very quickly.”
Several common problems that are treated by podiatric physicians include heel pain, bunions, hammertoes, arthritis, sports injuries, diabetic foot and wound care and traumatic injuries.
Information provided by Mindi J. Feilmeier, DPM, FACFAS, assistant professor, College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery, Des Moines University 3200 Grand Ave, Des Moines.