Professional Foot Care Help

February 26, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footcare, Health 

Never ignore an injury. Pushing through an injury or returning to your sport too soon after being injured can lead to additional injuries. You do not want to turn a temporary injury into a permanent disability. Too often athletes rely on self-diagnosis rather than consulting with a medical specialist. If during or after running or hiking you have persistent foot problems or recurring pain that you cannot resolve, seek medical treatment from a medical specialist who can provide his or her medical expertise for your problem.

Primary Medical Specialists for Feet

Orthopedists are orthopedic surgeons, experts of the joints, muscles, and bones. This includes upper and lower extremities and the spine. Look for an orthopedist that specializes in the foot and ankle. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society can provide referrals. There are also Orthopedic Clinical Specialists (OCS).

Podiatrists are doctors of podiatric medicine (DPM) that work on the feet up to and including the ankles. They specialize in human movement, and medical and surgical problems including foot diseases, deformities, and injuries, such as nail, skin, bone, tendon, and diabetic disorders. Podiatrists treat such disorders with surgery, custom-made orthotics (shoe inserts), physical therapy, injections, casting and braces, prescription medication, and medicated creams and ointments. The American Podiatric Medical Association and the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine can provide referrals.

If you have chronic foot problems, or you are uncertain what your feet are trying to tell you through their pain, consider consulting a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon. Listen to your whole body and especially your feet. Be attentive to when the pain begins and what makes it hurt more or less. Then be prepared to tell the specialist about the problem, its history, what you have done to correct it, and whether it worked or got worse.

There is a wide range of skill overlap between orthopedists and podiatrists. Each can treat most of the same foot problems. When searching for a medical specialist for your feet, talk to doctors about their training, experience, and whether they have a specialty field. Each of the two specialist fields has doctors who specialize in sports medicine, and these would be my first choice. Weigh this information when making a decision about who to turn to for help. Additionally, a variety of other specialists can provide assistance in strengthening, alignment, rehabilitation, and footwear design and fit.

Foot Specialists

Pedorthists work with the design, manufacture, fit, and modification of shoes, boots, and other footwear. Pedorthists are board certified (C.Ped) to provide prescription footwear and related devices. They will evaluate, fit, and modify all types of footwear. A C. Ped. can help find a shoe built on a last (the form over which a shoe is constructed) that best matches a person’s feet, and then construct a custom orthotic that meets his or her particular biomechanical needs and interfaces with the shoe in a way that improves its fit and performance. The American Orthotics and Prosthetics Association and the Pedorthic Footwear Association can provide information and referrals.

Sports Medicine Doctors specialize in sports-related injuries. They are typically doctors of internal medicine with additional training in sports medicine. When treating athletes with lower-extremity injuries that do not improve with their initial treatment, they may refer the athlete to a podiatrist or orthopedist. Most are members of the American College of Sports Medicine (which does not provide referral services).

Physical therapists (PT) are licensed to help with restoring function after illness and injury. Most work closely with medical specialists. Physical therapists use a variety of rehabilitation methods to restore function and relieve pain: massage, cold and heat therapy, ultrasound and electrical stimulation, and stretching and strengthening exercises.There are also Masters of Physical Therapy (MPT) and Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). The American Physical Therapy Association can provide referrals.

Athletic trainers are licensed to work specifically on sports-related injuries. Rehabilitation methods may be similar to physical therapy but can additionally focus on maintaining cardiovascular fitness while injuries heal. The National Athletic Trainers’ Association can provide referrals.

Massage therapists work with athletes in reducing pain and tightness in muscles, tendons, and ligaments—the body’s soft tissues. The American Massage Therapy Association can provide referrals. Look for either Licensed Massage Therapists (LMT) or Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCTMB).

Chiropractors are doctors of chiropractic (DC) medicine who specialize in the alignment of the body’s musculoskeletal system. Pelvis, back, and neck pain and muscle imbalances are often treated by a chiropractor. Some may specialize in sports injuries. There are also Certified Chiropractic Sports Physicians CCSP). Two organizations, the American Chiropractors Association and the International Chiropractic Association, can provide referrals.

When the time comes to seek medical attention, ask others in your sport for referrals, ask at your local running or outdoors store, look in the Yellow Pages, or search online. If you have a choice, choose a sports medicine specialist over a general doctor.

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