Don't Neglect Your Feet: Why You Should See a Podiatrist


Our feet are the foundation that carries us through life. They allow us to walk, run, jump, and explore the world around us. Yet, despite their importance, feet are often neglected until pain or discomfort strikes.

“Healthy feet are vital for mobility. In their lifetime, the average person walks approximately 100,000 miles. But all too often, we do not place the same emphasis on looking after our feet as we do other parts of our body,” writes Afsaneh Gray in The Pharmaceutical Journal.


The National Library of Medicine says that your foot health can be a clue to your overall health and that good foot care and regular foot checks are an important part of your health care.


If you have foot problems, you need to talk to a specialist and this is where podiatrists come in – healthcare professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of your feet and ankles.


Who is a Podiatrist?

Podiatry is a branch of medicine specializing in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the foot and ankle.


Podiatrists undergo rigorous training, including four years of medical school and additional residency programs focused on the lower extremities.


“A podiatrist is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), known also as a podiatric physician or surgeon, qualified by their education and training to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg,” explains the American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine (AACPM). “Podiatric physicians are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat the lower extremity based on their education, training, and expertise.”


A DPM is a specialist in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of lower extremity disorders, diseases, and injuries.


“Within the profession, podiatric physicians can specialize in a variety of areas such as surgery, orthopedics, or public health. Besides these certified specialties, podiatrists may practice a subspecialty such as sports medicine, pediatrics, dermatology, radiology, geriatrics, or diabetic foot care,” says the AACPM. “Podiatric physicians are the only doctors to receive specialized medical and surgical training, and board certification in the care of the lower extremity.”


Common Foot and Ankle Problems Podiatrists Treat

Feet and ankles are complex structures susceptible to various problems. Podiatrists are equipped to address a wide range of issues, including:

  • Bunions and Hammertoes: These bony deformities cause pain and discomfort.
  • Heel Pain (Plantar Fasciitis): Inflammation of the tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes, resulting in stabbing pain.
  • Ankle Sprains and Fractures: Frequent occurrences, especially due to sports injuries or missteps.
  • Ingrown Toenails: Painful condition where the toenail grows into the surrounding skin.
  • Corns and Calluses: Thickened areas of skin caused by friction and pressure.
  • Diabetic Foot Care: People with diabetes are more prone to foot problems, requiring specialized care to prevent complications.
  • Arthritis in the Feet and Ankles: Degenerative joint disease leading to pain, stiffness, and swelling.
  • Nerve Issues: Conditions like Morton's neuroma (a pinched nerve in the forefoot) or tarsal tunnel syndrome (compression of a nerve in the ankle) can cause pain, numbness, and tingling.

Why Should You Visit a Podiatrist?

Don't wait until the pain becomes unbearable to seek help. Here are some reasons to consider a podiatrist:

  • Persistent Foot or Ankle Pain: Pain is a signal that something's wrong. Ignoring it can worsen the problem.
  • Deformities or Structural Issues: Bunions, hammertoes, and flat feet can benefit from a podiatrist's expertise.
  • Skin Conditions Affecting the Feet: Fungal infections, athlete's foot, and other skin issues affecting the feet can be effectively treated by podiatrists.
  • Difficulty Walking or Standing: Podiatrists can identify the underlying cause and recommend treatment plans to improve mobility.
  • Diabetes or Other Conditions: Foot health is crucial for people with diabetes and other conditions that can impact their feet.
  • Sports Injuries or Overuse Injuries: Podiatrists specialize in treating sports-related injuries and overuse syndromes affecting the feet and ankles.

What Services Do Podiatrists Offer?

Podiatrists offer a comprehensive range of care for your feet and ankles:

  • Detailed Examinations and Diagnostic Tests: These may include X-rays, MRIs, and other tests to diagnose the root cause of your foot problem.
  • Conservative Treatments: Podiatrists often favor non-surgical approaches like orthotics, bracing, physical therapy, and medication to alleviate pain and improve function.
  • Surgical Procedures: In complex cases or severe deformities, podiatrists are trained to perform necessary surgeries.
  • Wound Care and Management: Diabetic foot complications can involve ulcers. Podiatrists specialize in wound care for these conditions.
  • Preventive Care and Education: Proper foot care is crucial. Podiatrists provide valuable advice on footwear, hygiene, and foot exercises to prevent future problems.

Why Choose Podiatric Care?

Seeing a podiatrist has numerous benefits:

  • Relief from Pain and Discomfort: Expert podiatric care can significantly improve your quality of life by alleviating foot pain and discomfort.
  • Improved Mobility and Quality of Life: Healthy feet are essential for mobility, allowing you to participate in activities you enjoy.
  • Early Detection and Treatment: Early diagnosis and treatment of foot problems can prevent them from worsening and lead to better outcomes.
  • Prevention of Further Complications or Injuries: Podiatrists can identify and address potential issues before they escalate into more serious problems.
  • Specialized Expertise in Foot and Ankle Health: Podiatrists have dedicated training and experience focused specifically on the lower extremities.

Finding the Right Podiatrist

Choosing the right podiatrist is crucial. Here are some tips:

  • Ask your primary care physician or other healthcare providers for recommendations.
  • Look for a podiatrist board-certified by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine.
  • Consider experience and areas of specialization. Some podiatrists focus on specific areas like sports medicine or diabetic foot care.
  • Evaluate office locations, hours, and accessibility. Find a podiatrist conveniently located and with operating hours that suit your schedule.

Preparing for Your Podiatrist Appointment

To get the most out of your podiatrist appointment, prepare by doing the following:

  • Bring a list of your symptoms, medical history, and medications. Write down details about your foot or ankle problem, including the location, duration, and severity of pain.
  • Also, list any medications you're currently taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.
  • Wear comfortable shoes or bring the shoes you typically wear. This allows the podiatrist to assess your footwear and how it might be contributing to your problem.
  • Be prepared to discuss your lifestyle, activities, and concerns. Talk about your daily routines, hobbies, and any sports activities you participate in.
  • Let the podiatrist know about any specific concerns you have regarding your foot health.

Taking care of your feet is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being. Don't hesitate to seek help from a podiatrist if you experience any foot or ankle problems.


Early diagnosis and treatment can make a significant difference in preventing further complications and improving your quality of life.


For expert podiatric care in The Woodlands and Magnolia area, visit Sweeney Foot & Ankle Specialists where Dr. Sweeney and his team provide comprehensive and compassionate care for all your foot and ankle needs.

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