Russell M Blatstein DPM

Patient Library

Jensen Beach   772.225.3668


Port St Lucie 772.337.2920

WHAT IS A PODIATRIST?

A podiatrist, also called a doctor of podiatric medicine, is a specialist who provides medical diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems, such as bunions, heel pain, spurs, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails, warts, corns and calluses. A podiatrist also renders care of sprains, fractures, infections, and injuries of the foot, ankle and heel. In addition to undergraduate medical school training, podiatrists also attend graduate school for a doctorate degree in podiatry. Podiatrists are required to take state and national exams, as well as be licensed by the state in which they practice.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, there are an estimated 15,000 practicing podiatrists in the United States. Podiatrists are in demand more than ever today because of a rapidly aging population. In addition, according to the association, foot disorders are among the most widespread and neglected health problems affecting people in this country.
Typically, podiatrists:

  • Consult with patients and other physicians on how to prevent foot problems.

  • Diagnose and treat tumors, ulcers, fractures, skin and nail diseases, and deformities.

  • Perform surgeries to correct or remedy such problems as bunions, clawtoes, fractures, hammertoes, infections, ruptured Achilles, and other ligaments and tendons.

  • Prescribe therapies and perform diagnostic procedures such as ultrasound and lab tests.

  • Prescribe or fits patients with inserts called orthotics that correct walking patterns.

  • Treat conditions such as: bone disorders, bunions, corns, calluses, cysts, heel spurs, infections, ingrown nails, and plantar fasciitis.


WHEN TO CALL A DOCTOR?

People call a doctor of podiatry for help diagnosing and treating a wide array of foot and ankle problems. Please contact our office if you experience one of the following:

  • Persistent pain in your feet or ankles.
  • Changes in the nails or skin on your foot.
  • Severe cracking, scaling, or peeling on the heel or foot.
  • Blisters on your feet.
  • There are signs of bacterial infection, including:
  • Increased pain, swelling, redness, tenderness, or heat.
  • Red streaks extending from the affected area.
  • Discharge or pus from an area on the foot.
  • Foot or ankle symptoms that do not improve after two weeks of treatment with a nonprescription product.
  • Spreading of an infection from one area of the foot to another, such as under the nail bed, skin under the nail, the nail itself, or the surrounding skin.
  • Thickening toenails that cause discomfort.
  • Heel pain accompanied by a fever, redness (sometimes warmth), or numbness.
  • Tingling in the heel; persistent heel pain without putting any weight or pressure on your heel
  • Pain that is not alleviated by ice or over-the-counter painkillers (such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen).
  • Diabetics with poor circulation who develop Athlete's Foot.


OVERVIEW OF THE FOOT AND ANKLE

Foot and ankle problems usually fall into the following categories:

Acquired from improper footwear, physical stress, or small mechanical changes within the foot.
Arthritic foot problems, which typically involve one or more joints.
Congenital foot problems, which occur at birth and are generally inherited.
Infectious foot problems, which are caused by bacterial, viral, or fungal problems.
Neoplastic disorders, also known as  tumors, which are the result of abnormal growth of tissue anywhere on the foot and may be benign or malignant.
Traumatic foot problems, which are associated with foot and ankle injuries, such as fractures.


FOOT ANATMOY

The foot is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles, and numerous tendons. Complex biomechanics keep all these parts in the right position and moving together. Given these intricacies, it is not surprising that most people will experience some problem with their feet at some time in their lives.

Within each foot, the essential structure can be summed up as follows:

  • Seven short tarsal bones make up the heel and back of the instep.
  • Five metatarsal bones spread from the back of the foot toward front and make up the structure for the ball of the foot. Each metatarsal is associated with one of the toes.
  • Fourteen phalanges, small bones, form the toe structure.
  • Tarsal and metatarsal bones provide the structure for the arch of the foot.
  • Bands of ligaments connect and hold all the bones in place.
  • A thick layer of fatty tissue under the sole helps absorb the pressure and shock that comes from walking and everyday movements.


BASIC FOOT CARE GUIDELINES

  • Don't ignore foot pain. It is not normal. If you experience any type of persistent pain in the foot or ankle, please contact our office.
  • Inspect your feet regularly. Pay attention to changes in color and temperature. Look for thick or discolored nails (a sign of developing fungus), and check for cracks or cuts in the skin. Peeling or scaling on the soles of feet may indicate Athlete's Foot. Any growth on the foot is not considered normal.
  • Wash your feet regularly, especially between the toes, and be sure to dry them completely.
  • Trim toenails straight across, but not too short. Be careful not to cut nails in corners or on the sides; this can lead to ingrown toenails. Persons with diabetes, poor circulation, or heart problems should not treat their own feet, because they are more prone to infection.
  • Make sure that your shoes fit properly. Purchase new shoes later in the day when feet tend to be at their largest, and replace worn out shoes as soon as possible.
  • Select and wear the right shoe for each sport or activity that you are engaged in (e.g., running shoes for running).
  • Alternate shoes—don't wear the same pair of shoes every day.
  • Avoid walking barefooted. Your feet will be more prone to injury and infection. At the beach or when wearing sandals always use sunblock on your feet.
  • Be cautious when using home remedies for foot ailments. Self-treatment may turn a minor problem into a major one.
  • If you are a diabetic, please contact our office and schedule a check-up at least once a year.