Have you ever experienced that tight, painful feeling in the arch of your foot when you first step out of bed? Have you strained a muscle in your foot or ankle while kicking a soccer ball around with your kids?

You're not alone. A 2014 study by the American Podiatric Medical Association revealed that 77 percent of Americans say they've experienced foot pain.

But what happens when the pain doesn't go away? In the same study, half of all adults said that foot pain restricted their activities ‹ like walking, exercising, working, or playing with grandchildren.

If foot pain is affecting your everyday life, you might consider a visit to your local podiatrist. A podiatrist is a medical provider who is specially trained to treat conditions of the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg. They may specialize in surgery, sports medicine, diabetic care or another related field.

Common Conditions Treated by Podiatrists

Podiatry is a lesser known field of medicine, but ‹ because we spend thousands of hours on our feet each year ‹ it's an important one. In the APMA study, only one-third of adults experiencing foot pain said they would consult a podiatrist about their concerns. In fact, respondents were far more likely to Google the problem.

The good news is that, among those who visited a podiatrist, 88 percent said the podiatrist was able to provide a clear diagnosis. And 76 percent said their podiatrist was able to prescribe effective treatment. Even better news? More than one-third of participants said their podiatrist helped identify a previously undiagnosed health problem, like diabetes or a nerve disorder.

So, how do you know if you should consult a podiatrist? If you're experiencing foot or ankle pain or another condition that impedes your ability to walk comfortably, then a podiatrist might be able to help. Many don't require a referral and most accept major insurance carriers.

To learn more about the field of podiatry and whether a visit to a podiatrist is right for you, visit apma.org.

Dr. P. Roman Burk is a board-certified podiatrist and podiatric surgeon practicing at Rocky Mountain Foot and Ankle and West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Burk or any West Valley provider, call 455.3981.

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