What is Podiatry?
Podiatry or Podiatric Medicine is a branch of medicine that deals with the study, diagnosis and treatment of various ailments that affect the feet, ankles and lower extremities of the body.
Who is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist or a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine is qualified physician who undertakes treatment or surgery of the feet, to cure various ailments that affect the feet and ankles. With increasing demand for podiatric treatments in the last few decades, podiatrists have further specialized into areas such as surgery, wound care, sports medicine, diabetes-related afflictions, paediatric, etc.
Why care for the feet?
The foot is a complex part of the body. It is made up of 26 bones, 38 joints, 28 muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, nerves, roughly 150,000 skin cells and 50,000 sweat glands. Between the 2 feet, the number of bones (52) is nearly a quarter of all the bones in the body (206). Why such complexity?
The feet are the workhorses of the body. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), every step we take places 1.5 times our body weight of pressure on each foot. This means, a 100-pound person places 150 pounds of pressure on each foot with every step. Further, the average person walks 5,000 to 7,000 steps a day, or roughly 100,000 miles in a lifetime which is 3 to 4 times the earth’s circumference. Needless to say, the foot is stressed constantly and is vulnerable to several conditions.
Also Read: I have a burning sensation on my feet. Why are my feet on fire?
Tips for maintaining a healthy foot
- Check your feet regularly and pay attention to changes in colour, texture or appearance
- Washing and drying between the toes, maintains a good foot hygiene
- Moisturize the skin.
- Do not ignore foot pain
- Gently file the corners of nails, do not cut them
- Exercise regularly
- Always wear a footwear that fits and replace them if they are worn out
- Dry out your foot wear regularly as they tend to absorb the moisture from your feet
- Always check the inside of your shoes before putting them on
Avoid walking bare foot
Conditions that affect the feet
- Fractures and sprains
- Bunions and hammertoes. When the joint at the base of your big toe gets bigger or knocked out of place, the condition is called a bunion. That makes the toe bend toward the others. A hammertoe is one where the toe has an upward bend in the centre creating a hammer shape.
- Nail disorders. Like other parts of the body, toe nails are also vulnerable to infections caused by a fungus or an ingrown toenail. In the latter condition, a corner or side of a nail grows into your toe instead of straight out.
- Growing pains in children. The child’s feet point inward or look flat or the toes are not properly aligned
- Heel pain. A range of conditions such as heel spur, plantar fasciitis, over-pronation and achilles tendinitis.
- Morton’s neuroma. When there are nerve problems between the third and fourth bones of the foot, it can cause pain, burning, and a feeling that there’s something in one’s shoe.
- Dry or cracked heel skin
- Blisters and ulcers under the foot
- Warts, corns and calluses
- Flat feet
- Sweaty and smelly feet
- Unequal leg lengths
Also Read: Osteoarthritis – Age Related Disorder
Risk Factors for Foot ailments
- Obesity: Obesity creates a vicious cycle of joint pain and shifting to one side of the body while walking to avoid the joint pain, which in turn causes pain in the feet.
- A family history of arthritis
- Some people are more prone to foot ailments than others. The below conditions can make one more vulnerable:
- High cholesterol, poor blood circulation, heart disease and stroke: These conditions are high risk factors for stroke and paralysis which will impair normal foot movement.
Also Read: Hammertoe can be life-changing, treat it in time
Diagnosis and Treatment
Depending on the nature of your foot condition and to what extent it has progressed, the podiatrist may initiate one or more of these to precisely diagnose the condition: Blood test, Nail swab, doppler, biothesiometer, ultrasound, X-ray or MRI scan
Treatment options vary again and range from the use of orthotic aids to topical creams or lotions to oral medication to surgery. Orthotic aids are material or appliances used to reduce discomfort from the foot condition.
When you have a nagging pain or some discomfort in your feet, consult a reputed hospital. A qualified podiatrist will diagnose your condition precisely and put you on a course of treatment for quick recovery and rehabilitation. Rest assured, you will get back to your regular routine and resume your normal, happy lifestyle in no time.
Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Karaikudi, Hosur and Salem, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.
Chennai – 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Karaikudi – 04565 244555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777