Many people find that the cold months are hard on their feet and ankles. Unfortunately, of those who seek help for these winter foot problems from their podiatrists, a certain number find that their conditions worsen due to negligent care. If you have been the victim of podiatric malpractice, Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Lawyers of New York is here to help you obtain justice.
The following cold weather foot problems often target winter athletes and those whose occupations keep them outdoors during the winter months (e.g. construction workers, police officers, firefighters, crossing guards). Nonetheless, the rest of us who venture out into the cold (in spite of the pandemic) for work, supplies, exercise, and doctor visits may also contact podiatrists for help with:
Though the word sounds old-fashioned, the discomfort of chilblains may be all too current. Chilblains occur when the tiny blood vessels under the skin contract in the cold, causing painful itching and swelling, typically on a hand or foot. They are caused by poor circulation and an abnormal blood vessel response to cold. Women, those who are underweight, those who take beta-blockers, and those with Raynaud’s disease are at increased risk. Usually, chilblains are not serious, but mistreatment by an inept or negligent podiatrist may lead to serious infection.
When your skin is exposed to cold temperatures for any length of time, you may suffer frostbite — a freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Chilblains and frostbite can occur when feet do not have sufficient layers of sock protection within shoes, or if those layers get wet. At first, the skin becomes very cold and red, then hard, pale, and numb. If exposure to the cold continues, the muscles and bones underneath the skin may also be impacted, leading to infection and nerve damage. In severe cases, frostbite of the feet may lead to loss of a toe or even amputation of a foot.
Cracked Heels, Athlete’s Foot, Corns, and Blisters May Not Be as Harmless as You Think
Any of these seemingly benign conditions can make walking painful and may be more likely to occur in winter when  dry skin is at its peak  fungal infections thrive in the sweat of heavy socks and  blisters and corns thrive in ill-fitting rented ice skates or ski boots. If any of these small disorders are mistreated, particularly in patients with pre-existing vulnerabilities, they may lead to severe infections and even systemic illness.
Winter activities — including snowball fights as well as skiing, skating, and snowboarding — are all conducted on slick surfaces, making the probability of slipping, twisting an ankle, and falling more likely. Moreover, simply walking on sidewalks or pavement covered with ice or snow increases the risk of a foot fracture.
Though wearing traction devices may help you stay on your feet, there is no denying that walking in those winter wonderlands can be more dangerous than wonderful. Small fractures (as of the toe) may be taped and left to heal on their own, but ankle fractures will require casting and possibly surgery. As you may already know, mistakes made during operations or administration of anesthesia can have terrible consequences.
Unexplained Foot Pain
For many of us, especially those with arthritis, diabetes, peripheral artery disease, and certain other disease conditions that restrict circulation, cold weather can exacerbate aches and pains.
The added weight we may put on during our comfort food binges or holiday festivities only worsens the problem. A podiatrist has a duty to use all the diagnostic tools at his or her disposal to diagnose your condition correctly, since misdiagnosis may lead to dangerous mistreatment or allow the original problem to worsen.
How Podiatry Malpractice Can Make Matters Much Worse
There are several actions, or inactions, for which a podiatrist may be deemed negligent and guilty of malpractice, including:
- Misdiagnosing your foot problem and therefore treating it improperly
- Performing unnecessary surgery
- Failing to take note of an underlying, pre-existing condition (such as diabetes or circulatory disease) when considering treatment options
- Prescribing a medication to which you have a known and reported allergy
- Administering a medication that interacts with one you are already taking
- Not following up on a condition being treated or during the postsurgical period
How Dental & Podiatry Malpractice Can Help You Win Damages
If you have had incompetent or negligent treatment by a podiatrist, the law entitles you to damages for your medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and, if applicable, permanent disability. Our highly skilled attorneys will fight aggressively to win your case and obtain the compensation you need and deserve.