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Podiatrists treat people of any age for many foot-related conditions, including:

  • Fractures and sprains. Podiatrists regularly treat these common injuries when they affect a foot or ankle. They also work in sports medicine, treating foot problems athletes have and recommending ways to avoid them.
  • Bunions and hammertoes. These are problems with the bones in your feet. A bunion happens when the joint at the base of your big toe gets bigger or knocked out of place. That makes the toe bend toward the others. A hammertoe does not bend the right way.
    Nail disorders include issues like a fungus-caused nail infection or an ingrown toenail, which occurs when a corner or side of a nail grows into your toe instead of straight out.
  • Diabetes. This is a condition in which your body either doesn’t make a hormone called insulin or doesn’t use it the way it should. Insulin helps you digest sugar. Diabetes can damage the nerves in your feet or legs, and you might have trouble getting enough blood to your feet.
    Diabetes can cause serious complications. More than 65,000 people a year need to have a foot amputated — removed by a doctor — because of diabetes. A podiatrist can help prevent that. If you have diabetes, get any sores or calluses on your feet checked out.
  • Arthritis. This results from inflammation, swelling, and wear and tear on your joints. Each foot has 33 joints. A podiatrist might recommend physical therapy, drugs, or special shoes or inserts to help with your arthritis. Surgery also might be an option if other treatments don’t work well for you.
  • Growing pains. If your child’s feet point inward or look flat or their toes don’t line up right, a podiatrist might be able to help. They could recommend exercises, insoles, or braces. Or they might recommend surgery.
  • Heel pain. A common cause of heel pain is spurs, a calcium buildup at the bottom of your heel bone. You can get them from running, ill-fitting shoes, or being overweight. Plantar fasciitis is inflammation of the band of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot. Sports and nonsupportive shoes are usually to blame. Overpronation, meaning your foot bends in or out too far when you walk, is often a cause. It, too, can affect athletes, as can Achilles tendinitis, which causes pain at the back of your heel where this tendon attaches. Treatment often starts with over-the-counter pain meds and may include shoe inserts called orthotics. Some people need surgery.
  • Morton’s neuroma. Nerve problems between the third and fourth bones of your foot can cause pain, burning, and a feeling that there’s something in your shoe. It usually affects runners. Tight shoes and overpronation make it worse. A podiatrist can give you shots for inflammation and pain and help you find an orthotic. You might need surgery to remove it.

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