Pain in your feet is not normal. When your feet hurt, you hurt all over and want relief. How will you get that relief? As yourself these questions:
1. Should you treat it yourself?
2. Should you seek treatment from a podiatrist?
When considering self-treatment, you can start with RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Anti-inflammatory medications can help with pain and swelling; just be sure to take them according to package directions. Proper shoe gear, fitted by a professional, is helpful for several painful conditions. Another consideration for self-treatment is an over-the-counter arch support to relieve pressure and support the foot.
Here are some situations where you should seek podiatric care:
1. If you experience pain that increases with activity. This could be a stress fracture or tendon injury. Both of these conditions require immediate care to prevent more serious problems.
2. Injuries that prevent you from putting weight on your foot due to significant swelling and pain require attention as soon as you can be seen by a podiatrist. This may mean going to the emergency room to be seen by the podiatrist on call.
3. Severe pain that lasts more than 24 hours can be the result of several conditions, therefore professional care is vital for diagnosis and treatment.
4. Open wounds or sores that are slow to heal on the foot should be seen by a podiatrist. If you have diabetes or poor circulation, you should seek immediate care within 24 hours of noticing the wound. The longer a wound is present, the higher the risk of infection.
5. If you have moles or other skin lesions on your feet that are irregular in shape or color, are painful, become open sores, or have changed appearance, you should see a professional as soon as possible to have a biopsy taken of the lesion. Your podiatrist will confirm a diagnosis and help generate a treatment plan once those results have been obtained.
6. Growths on the foot are not uncommon, but when they change or become painful, they should be examined.
7. Pain that wakes you up at night or when your legs are elevated, and is relieved by walking or dangling your feet is a common sign of poor circulation. Seeing a podiatrist is a good place to start your search for relief. After an examination and possibly some simple vascular testing, your podiatrist can make recommendations for further treatment and referrals as needed.
8. If you notice flattening of one arch, which may or may not be painful, you should seek care to determine the cause and plan subsequent treatment.
9. Changes in color of your foot or lower leg compared to the other side can indicate poor circulation (white discoloration), venous conditions (purple or blue discoloration), infection or gout (red discoloration). These conditions vary in severity, but should be evaluated.
10. An ingrown toenail that is causing pain or becomes red and swollen requires a simple in-office procedure to permanently remove the ingrown portion of the toenail.
11. Thickening and discoloration of your toenail which becomes painful or spreads to other nails can be treated by either topical or oral medications or laser treatment.
12. A foot deformity that is progressively getting worse should be evaluated and your treatment options reviewed.