Foot pain is not normal and will not go away on its own. Podiatrists are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat the complex structure of the foot and ankle, based on their education, training and experience. They can diagnose illnesses, treat injuries and perform surgery affecting the foot, ankle and the lower extremities. They can provide guidance on proper athletic footwear, prescribe custom orthotics, and evaluate biomechanics.
Use the foot health information pages below (compiled from the APMA) to learn more common foot conditions and treatments. Contact an NJPMS podiatrist today if you are experiencing foot pain or any foot health problems.
Diabetes is the inability to manufacture or properly use insulin, and it impairs the body's ability to convert sugars, starches and other foods into energy. The long-term effects of elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can lead to serious damage to the eyes, heart, kidney, nerves and feet. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects the lives of nearly 29 million people in the United States and nearly eight million don't even know they have the disease yet.
Visit a Podiatrist
Because diabetes is a disease affecting many parts of the body, successful management requires a team approach. Podiatrists are an integral part of the treatment team and have documented success in preventing amputations*:
The keys to amputation prevention are early recognition and regular foot screenings performed by a podiatrist, the foot and ankle expert.
If you have diabetes, follow these foot care tips:
YOU Can Outsmart Diabetes!
Of the more than 29 million people in the U.S. with diabetes, about half, will develop neuropathy - a loss of feeling in the lower extremities. This nerve damage means an open sore or injury on the foot may go unnoticed until it becomes infected, which can eventually lead to the need for partial or full amputation of the foot or lower leg. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower-limb amputation.
However, while the risk of foot complications may be frightening, there are many ways in which YOU can help outsmart diabetes!
Take a step in the right direction by having your feet checked regularly by a podiatrist. Podiatrists are the most qualified doctors to care for your feet, based on their education, training, and experience! When you add a podiatrist to your health-care team, he or she can provide you with important information so you're able to better manage the effects of diabetes on your feet.
Whether you've recently been diagnosed or have been fighting the disease for years, the resources below will help you to monitor your feet and prevent complications.
PAD is short for Peripheral Arterial Disease. PAD is caused by a blockage or narrowing of the arteries in the legs when fatty deposits called plaque buildup. The buildup of plaque causes the arteries to harden and narrow, which is called atherosclerosis. This results in a reduction of blood flow to the legs and feet. This is commonly referred to as poor circulation.
The symptoms of PAD include the following:
However, many individuals with PAD do not experience typical leg symptoms such as cramping, pain, or fatigue known as claudication.
When to Visit a Podiatrist
Do not ignore leg pain. It is important to discuss any leg or thigh pain that you are having with your podiatric physician since it could be a warning sign of a serious disease such as PAD. Early detection of PAD can offer an opportunity to treat risk factors that can slow the progression of the disease and decrease the chance of heart attack and stroke.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your podiatric physician can do a simple test to determine if you have PAD. The test is called an ABI, or ankle-brachial index. It compares the blood pressure in your ankles with the blood pressure in your arm. If your ABI is abnormal, your podiatric physician may order other tests to determine the extent of your PAD.
PAD can be treated with lifestyle changes, medicines, and surgical procedures if necessary. Medical treatment options include:
A variety of surgical treatment options are available depending on the location and severity of the artery blockage. Your podiatric physician can refer you to the appropriate specialist for these procedures.
Peripheral neuropathy is damage of the peripheral nerves. Your peripheral nerves—the nerves in your toes and fingertips—are the ones on the periphery of your body. When the nerves are damaged, they don't function properly. People with peripheral neuropathy have decreased or abnormal sensation in their toes and fingers. Sometimes, they develop problems moving these parts of the body as well.
The most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include burning, numbness, tingling, or shooting or stabbing pain in the toes and/or fingertips. Any change in sensation in the fingers or toes may be a symptom of peripheral neuropathy. Be sure to report any abnormal sensations to your doctor. Those sensations may be the first sign of another problem, such as diabetes.
If you have peripheral neuropathy, it is important to inspect your feet regularly. Because decreased sensation may develop eventually, you might not notice an injury or infection. Someone who has diabetes and peripheral neuropathy with loss of protective sensation, for instance, could step on a tack without noticing it. Regularly inspect your feet so you can note any injuries or infections and seek appropriate medical attention as needed.
If you're unable to properly inspect your own feet, enlist a family member or friend to help you. It's absolutely essential that any injuries are caught and treated promptly. Otherwise, an infection can develop and progress.
People with peripheral neuropathy should wear properly fitted shoes and avoid walking barefoot to prevent injury. If you have diabetes, it's important to control your blood sugar as well, because out-of-control blood sugar leads to increased nerve damage. Take your insulin or medication as prescribed and follow the recommended diet.
When to Visit a Podiatrist
Everyone with peripheral neuropathy of the feet should see a podiatrist. Podiatrists are doctors who are specially trained to preserve the health of the feet.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A podiatrist, family physician, internist or physician who specializes in diabetes can diagnose peripheral neuropathy. The diagnosis is made on the basis of a physical exam, health history and your reporting of symptoms. The doctor may order a blood test to check your blood sugar level because high blood sugar levels and diabetes are an important cause of peripheral neuropathy.
There is no known cure for peripheral neuropathy. The goal of treatments is to slow the progression of the disease, to maintain foot health and to decrease pain (if present) and improve the quality of life. A podiatrist may prescribe oral medication to help with pain. He or she will also perform a thorough foot check to look for any injuries or infections and will teach you how to do the same. Your podiatrist will also show you how to take care of your feet at home. People who have peripheral neuropathy should have their feet examined by a podiatrist at least once per year.
If you also have diabetes, the podiatrist will work closely with you and other health-care professionals. Controlling the patient's blood sugar levels with diet, exercise, and medication, (if needed), can slow the progression of peripheral neuropathy and maintain foot health.
The best thing you can do to prevent peripheral neuropathy is to keep your blood sugar levels under control. Peripheral neuropathy is common in people with diabetes, but the degree of neuropathy generally corresponds to the degree of blood sugar control. Someone whose blood sugar is kept under tight control will usually have much better sensation in his or her fingers and toes than someone with poorly controlled diabetes.