Podiatrists.com - Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to common questions
Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I have pain in the back of my heel?
Pain in the back of the heel is usually caused by Achilles tendonitis or inflammation of the tendon that attaches to the back of the heel bone. 

What is a bunion? Can they be caused by shoes?
A painful mal alignment or enlargement of the bone at the base of the big toe. They can be caused by poorly fitting shoes however in 40% of the population they are hereditary. A bunion can lead to joint arthritis if not treated, and will get progressively worse over time. It can also prohibit a woman from wearing stylish shoes and usually requires surgery to correct. 

What is a hammertoe? How are they caused?
A hammertoe is a deformity where the joints of the toe become contracted and the toe begins to curl as a result. It can be either flexible or rigid and is caused by a dynamic imbalance of the muscle that attach to the toes. This is also a progressive condition and also requires surgery to correct. 

What causes heel pain? What can I do about it?
Heel pain is usually caused by irritation of a ligament that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot. Patients usually experience pain when taking the first step in the am or when getting up after prolonged periods of sitting. Heel pain can be treated conservatively with anti-inflammatories (ie advil, aleve, ) ice, stretching, physical therapy, night splints, orthotics. If heel pain is recalcitrant to conservative therapy a physician may choose to inject the heel with cortisone or correct the problem by cutting the ligament. Although surgery can be performed, shockwave therapy is now also available for this condition. 

Why do I have pain and numbness in the ball of my foot?
Pain and numbness in the ball of the foot can often be contributed to a neuroma or an enlargement of a nerve that runs between the ends of the long bones (metatarsal) of the foot. This is sometimes referred to as a tumor of the nerve and is usually benign. Initially the patient will feel a sharp pain in the ball of the foot, especially when wearing shoes. Over time the pain will progress to numbness. The most common location for these symptoms is between the 2nd and 3rd or the 3rd and 4th metatarsal heads. 

What are corns and callouses and how do I get them?
Callouses-areas of hard thick dead skin usually found on the bottom of the foot, heel or ball of the foot. Usually caused by excessive friction from shoes. More commonly occurring in the summer during sandal season.

Corns-also areas of hard thick dead skin usually found on top of the foot covering areas of protruding bone, called hammertoes or contracted digits. Can also be found in between toes where there is excessive bony prominence noted on the side of the toe. When located in between toes this is called a soft corn. Usually caused by irritation from poorly fitting shoes. 

Why are my nails yellow and thick and how do I get rid of it?
You probably have what is called onychomycosis or fungus in the nail. The nail usually appears yellow to brown in color and may be accompanied by thickening, peeling or lifting of the nail from the skin. Usually the infection is noted in the skin first and subsequently spreads to the nail. You can also pick it up in nail salons especially if they do not properly sterilize their instruments. Once the nail is infected with fungus, it is VERY VERY difficult to get rid of the infection. Most topical agents unfortunately do not penetrate the nail plate. For mild onychomycosis treatments such as Penlac Nail Laquer must be used once a day for a period of 9 months to a year or the length of time it takes the nail to completely grow out. Even then the cure rate is only 40% at best. Really the most effective treatment for onychomycosis remains Lamisil tablets and seeing a podiatrist to get your nails cut. 

What is athlete’s foot?
Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of the skin. It usually involves redness, cracking, and itching of the foot. Also noted on the bottom of the foot are small blister like lesions that appear to have ruptured. Skin can also appear scaly and dry and can be confused as dry skin, especially in the geriatric population

What is a wart?
A wart is a thickening of the skin and can often be confused as a callous. It is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). It differs from a callous or corn in that the skin lines are obscured. Many treatment options are available and will differ with every physician.

Do You Need Podiatric Care?
Most people suffer from some kind of foot disorder - from athlete's foot or ingrown nails to bunions, hammertoes or corns. Tight-fitting or high-heeled shoes are often the culprit, but heredity, poor foot care, injuries, or medical conditions can also cause problems. Whatever the state of your feet, your podiatrist can treat your problem to restore your comfort and ease of movement.

What do Podiatrists do?
Podiatrists have a wide range of skills and a broad scope of practice. Some of the things we deal with on a day-to-day basis are listed below.

  • Musculoskeletal lower limb pathologies including Plantar fasciitis, Achilles Tendonitis, Heel Pain, Metartarsalgia, Acute/Chronic Foot Pain, Sports Injuries, Video and In Shoe Pressure, Gait analysis Provision of Insoles/Orthotics to control foot position
  • Dermatological conditions including corns/callus, fungal infections, candid infections, painful verrucae
  • In growing toenails - Nail Surgery under local anesthesia
  • Foot Health Promotion - self care, footwear advice
  • High Risk Feet (Secondary to Diabetes, Rheumatological, Ischaemic, Neurological, Immunocompromised conditions)
  • Toenail cutting for those whose disability/medical condition prevents them from doing this for themselves
  • Wound management - foot ulceration
  • Physical therapies including laser, electro surgery, cryotherapy, topical chemotherapy

What is the difference between a chiropodist and a podiatrist?
There is no difference between a chiropodist and a podiatrist. Podiatrist is the term used for chiropodists in other English speaking countries.

What letters of qualifications should I look for when I want to find a podiatrist?
The registration process for podiatrists has recently changed. Due to recent changes in legislation, common professional titles like ‘chiropodist’ and ‘podiatrist’ are now protected by law. Anyone who uses a protected title must register with the Health Professions Council (HPC). Registration with the HPC now replaces the previous system of state registration. Some podiatrists may continue to use the phrase "S.R.Ch. State registered chiropodist" after their name, but this phrase is in fact now defunct.
The phrases and letters you should now look for are:

  • Registered with the Health Professions Council (HPC)
  • M.Ch.S. Member of The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
  • F.Ch.S. Fellow of The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
  • FCPods Fellow of The College of Podiatrists of The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists

What is the cost of Podiatry treatment?
We do not publish a price list for podiatry treatment, as our Private Practice members will all work differently and charge differently for the services they provide. We would recommend that you call a few podiatrists in your local area to gauge their costs. For a list of Podiatrists in your area please see our find a Podiatrist feature.
However, this will be a private sector Podiatrist and you may prefer to approach your local NHS Podiatry Department, as they no doubt will have regular sessions.

Tips & Warnings
Check to see if the doctor offers free consultations to avoid paying fees for merely meeting the doctor. You may have to visit several doctors before you find the one that you like, but don't worry there is a doctor to match every person's needs.

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