PENSACOLA, Fla. – A person’s foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments. Damage to just one of those can develop into chronic conditions if left unmanaged.
Naval Hospital Pensacola’s podiatrist, located at Naval Branch Health Clinic Naval Air Station Pensacola, is available for any foot or ankle issues affecting active duty and TRICARE Prime beneficiaries enrolled at the hospital or the local branch clinics.
Podiatrists treat medical ailments of the foot and ankle including ankle pain or instability, heel pain, flat feet, shin splints, bunions, infections, calluses, warts and many other podiatric problems. Podiatry treatments can range from non-invasive shoe inserts to surgical procedures.
“Even though feet and ankles are a small part of the human body,” said Lt. Jeremy Hyrczyk, podiatrist at Naval Branch Health Clinic, Naval Air Station Pensacola, “proper foot care can have large health care benefits.”
The exertion a person puts on their feet and ankles on a daily basis may be perceived as just regular wear and tear. However, feet are more than just parts of the body used for getting from point A to point B. Foot pain left unchecked can cause health issues throughout the rest of the body.
“You have to take care of your feet,” said Hyrczyk, “because feet are the foundation of an entire structure. Feet act as the base of the human body; they support the legs, hips, torso and all the way to the top of the head. If there are problems at the base, those problems can be exacerbated as they extend to the rest of the body.
“It’s essentially like building a house. If you build a foundation that’s a little bit off on one corner, by the time you get to the second story you’re going to have things off kilter that will have to be [addressed]. The same goes for the feet and the body. Issues with the feet can compound any other issues you may have on the rest of your [body].”
The passion podiatrists share for their work is echoed by their patients as well.
“[Podiatrists’] views on feet are totally different from the way a regular doctor views feet,” said Hospital Corpsman Second Class Natasha Ibarra, assistant to NHP Command Master Chief and a podiatry patient. “Seeing a podiatrist really made a difference for me. I have seen a dramatic change in my pain and [how I] walk.”
People join the medical profession and military for a multitude of reasons. For Hyrczyk, the reason was simple.
“When I came into the service, it was an absolute act of servitude.” said Hyrczyk. “I have a lot of respect for [service members], and if I can keep them moving and keep their boots on the ground, I think that’s worth more than anything else in the world that I can do in order to keep our country safe and allow us to have our freedom.”
Podiatry appointments are offered on a referral-only basis with clinical appointments at NBHC NASP and surgeries conducted at NHP. If eligible beneficiaries are having concerns about their feet, they should discuss it first with their primary care manager.