Foot Doctors' Guide - What You Should Know

Doctor looking at an X-Ray of the foot


Patients of all ages can experience foot pain stemming from various conditions. In this guide, learn about conditions, signs, symptoms, treatment, and when it is time to see an orthopedic foot doctor near you.



What Kind of Doctor Do You See for Foot Pain?

If you are experiencing pain, swelling, stiffness, or injury in the foot, you should seek help from an orthopedic foot doctor.

Orthopedic foot and ankle subspecialists are fellowship-trained orthopedists with expertise treating conditions in the foot and ankle.



3 Conditions That Cause Foot Pain


Arthritis in the Toes



In general, arthritis occurs from loss of cartilage in the joint and can be caused from aging or injury to the affected area.


Arthritis in the toes can be treated conservatively or with surgery depending on the location and severity of the condition.

Dr. Thomson, a foot doctor in Nashville, TN says, “There are a lot of footwear changes you can make that will help arthritis of the foot and we’re happy to help direct that. It’s not always a surgical problem, but if you do surgery, it is often a fusion.”







Bunions are typically caused from wearing shoes that are too small or narrow. Poor-fitting shoes put pressure on the big toe, causing the bones in the big toe and foot to shift. When this shift occurs, a bunion can form.

Additionally, genetics and arthritis may increase your risk for developing a bunion.


There are no conservative treatment options that will get rid of a bunion, non-surgical options can only aid in symptom relief.  

The type of surgery needed will depend on the severity of the bunion. The most common surgery to treat bunions is called a distal chevron osteotomy.


Plantar Fasciitis



Plantar Faucitis is caused by the inflammation of your plantar fascia, the tissue that connects your heel to the rest of your foot.

You may be more at risk for developing this condition if you are overweight, have flat feet or high arches, or spend a lot of time on your feet.


This condition can often be treated non-surgically through rest, ice, medication, and physical therapy.

If your foot pain worsens or will not go away after treating it conservatively, see an orthopedic surgeon specializing in surgery of the foot and ankle about treatment options.



5 Signs You Need to See a Foot Doctor



1. It Is Difficult to Walk

If you are experiencing pain in your foot, ankle, or toes, it can be difficult to walk. If this pain does not go away or worsens, there are a wide variety of foot-related conditions you may have. You should seek help from a foot doctor near you about diagnosis and treatment.


2. You Have a Bump on the Side of Your Foot

If you have a bump on the side of your big toe, you most likely have a bunion. Bunions do not go away, so it is best to schedule an appointment with a foot doctor. In the meantime, avoid wearing uncomfortable shoes.


3. You Are Experiencing Pain in Your Heel

Ongoing pain in the heel can be a sign of plantar fasciitis. Most of the time, plantar fasciitis can be treated conservatively. However, it is a good idea to seek help from a foot and ankle specialist about proper footwear and prevention.


4. The Size or Shape of Your Toes Have Changed

If your toes have changed in size or shape, this can be a sign of arthritis. If your foot arthritis is hindering your lifestyle, it is time to seek help from a foot and ankle doctor about treatment options.


5. You are Experiencing Swelling

If you are experiencing swelling in the foot, it could be a sign of injury or arthritis. Be sure to monitor your swelling and other symptoms.



Who Is the Best Foot Doctor Near Me?



Some foot doctors practice privately, while others are employed by hospitals or medical centers. Skill may vary from doctor to doctor.

We recommend researching to find the best doctor in your area. To do so:



Do I Need a Referral to Be Seen by a Foot Specialist?

Many orthopedic foot specialists do not require a referral to be seen. You can request an appointment with a foot doctor near you by calling or submitting a form through their website.



Treatment Options for Foot Pain



Treatment for foot pain will range form conservative treatment to surgery. If you are experiencing foot pain and are not sure if you should seek help, it is best to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist. Your foot doctor may recommend:

Nonsurgical Treatment

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment will depend on your condition and the area that is affected. Seek help from an orthopedic specialist to see if surgery is right for you.



How Can I Avoid Foot Pain?

One of the best things you can do to avoid foot pain is to wear proper footwear.

If you have foot arthritis, we recommend trying a stiffer-souled shoe. You want enough room for your toes; so, if you have a toe deformity, you need room for the toe box for your shoe to be comfortable.

If you have heel pain or plantar fasciitis, you may need an arch support. There are lots of different considerations depending on what is causing your foot pain.



Our Foot Doctors in Nashville, TN


Dr. Willers



Dr. Jeffrey Willers is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in surgery of the foot and ankle. He sees both children and adult patients in Nashville and Franklin, TN.

Dr. Willers values that all patients are unique and that each patient will have an individualized treatment plan. He says patients can expect him to be honest, straightforward, and down to earth.


Dr. Thomson



Dr. A. Brian Thomson is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in surgery of the foot and ankle in Nashville and Franklin, TN.

Dr. Thomson sees the patient experience as a partnership between the patient and doctor. He says patients can expect him to listen; he wants to know where their pain is and what they hope to achieve.



Success Stories from Our Patients

Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line – Dr. Thomson Patient



Tyler came to Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics after rupturing his Achilles tendon and breaking a bone on the inside of his ankle.

He came to see foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Thomson, who performed a successful surgery on Hubbard. After surgery, he started his recovery with physical therapy at MPOWER Performance Institute.

Having a busy schedule, Tyler appreciated the flexibility that Dr. Thomson’s team offered. Hubbard states “I would absolutely recommend Elite Sports Medicine to all my family, buddies, or anyone who wants to get stronger.”

To learn more about Tyler’s experience with Dr. Thomson, click here.


Sheryl – Dr. Willers Patient

Sheryl had been struggling with ankle pain for years and it was taking a toll on her very active lifestyle. She came to see Dr. Willers at Elite Sports Medicine and decided that surgery was the best option for her lifestyle and goals.

The surgery was a success and Sheryl continued her recovery in physical therapy with MPOWER Performance Institute. She is now back to living her active lifestyle and has completed marathons and triathlons.

To learn more about Sherly’s experience with Dr. Willers, click here



If you are experiencing pain, swelling, stiffness, or other symptoms in your foot, seek help from a foot doctor near you.

Our foot doctors treat patients in Nashville and Franklin, TN. To schedule an appointment with one of our award-winning orthopedic surgeons, click here.




Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, December 11). Plantar fasciitis. Mayo Clinic.

Story, C. M. (2019, May 11). My Aching Feet: 8 Symptoms of Arthritis in Toes. Healthline.


Marina von Rutenberg Marina is the Marketing Coordinator for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. She has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2021.

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