Most people don’t realize how important their feet really are until the pain starts. Then, it becomes extremely clear! Just about everything you do in your daily life depends upon healthy feet. If they hurt, your world suddenly gets a whole lot smaller.
So, what do you do about it? What’s the best way to get over your foot pain? When should you call a doctor, and what kind of doctor should you see?
For many acute flare-ups of stiffness, soreness, or pain, home care may be an appropriate first response. Minor inflammation may be addressed through rest, ice, over-the-counter pain medication, and possibly some light stretching or shoe changes. However, more serious or long-lasting pain should be brought to the attention of a podiatrist.
Podiatrists are physicians who have trained extensively—and exclusively—in medical care for feet and ankles. They work with feet all day, every day, which makes them the most qualified professionals to diagnose and treat these conditions.
You should see a podiatrist if any of the following conditions are met:
- Foot pain is severe (beyond simple soreness or aching) or there is an obvious injury (such as an ankle sprain).
- Foot pain does not get better after several days of resting or other home care strategies.
- Certain symptoms or problems return over and over again—this could indicate a structural foot problem.
- You notice or begin to develop any signs of a progressive deformity in your foot shape. For example, a bump at the base of your big toe (bunion), toes getting stuck in a curled position (hammertoes or claw toes), arches flattening, etc.
- Persistent numbness, tingling, burning, or other odd sensations in your legs and feet.
- Cuts or wounds on feet that won’t heal.
- You have diabetes. With this condition, any existing foot problems should be examined by a podiatrist right away. You should also schedule regular diabetic screenings and checkups (at least annually) even if there are no obvious injuries.