Common types of foot conditions that podiatrists can treat
A podiatrist specialises in the medical treatment of conditions related to the lower legs, ankles, and feet. Read on to learn more about the way in which they may approach the treatment of two of the most common kinds of foot problems.
A bunion is a type of deformity, which develops when the joint nearest to the base of the big toe becomes enlarged. The resulting bump can make it difficult for the sufferer to wear shoes without experiencing pain, as the bunion rubs against the sides of their footwear until the skin becomes raw and blistered. Whilst it is often said that those who wear high-heels are more prone to this type of bone deformity, the truth is that most people who experience this condition have a genetic structural defect in their foot which puts them at risk of developing bunions.
A podiatrist who is treating someone suffering from this issue may take one of several approaches, depending on the size of the bump and the amount of discomfort it is causing. They may, for example, teach them a set of stretching exercises which will help to reduce their pain levels or arrange for them to have orthotics (a type of insole) fitted to make their normal footwear feel more comfortable.
However, if the patient finds that they are still experiencing a lot of pain as a result of their bunion or if they find them to be unsightly, their podiatrist may recommend surgery in order to address the deformity permanently, through realignment or removal of the affected bone.
A person with flat feet has little to no arch on either foot. This problem can lead to a person feeling pain in their lower back, knees, ankles, and feet. It may also result in over-pronation (where the feet roll too far inwards), which, if the sufferer likes to run or walk long distances, may then increase their risk of sustaining injuries such as plantar fasciitis and shin splints.
The treatment a podiatrist employs for this problem will depend on the cause of the patient's flat feet. If, for example, they are obese and it is suspected that their bodyweight is placing too much pressure on their feet, the podiatrist may recommend that they lose weight. Similarly, if the patient has diabetes which has weakened the tendons, the best course of action may be to refer the patient to their GP to get their diabetes back under control.
In cases of severe flat feet where the underlying cause cannot be addressed or identified, the podiatrist may offer steroid injections or custom orthotics to alleviate the pain and other symptoms associated with this condition.