Diagnosis is of paramount importance and the first step in evaluation for treatment of any physical condition. The feet are at the end of the circulatory and neuromuscular system. Because of this, they can be first indicators in other systemic problems such as diabetes, circulatory conditions, etc. They can also indicate general health status or the lack thereof such as anemia, cardio vascular, and pulmonary problems. Even such common conditions as Athlete's Feet, ingrown toenails, fungus toenails, discoloration of skin, etc. can indicate possible other systemic problems. Dr. Ernest Seckel has spent his life diagnosing and treating foot problems. With almost 40 years of podiatric training and experience, he is a skilled diagnostician of foot conditions.
Custom orthotics are devices made from an impression of your feet for the express purpose of creating and maintaining maximal function with minimal trauma when standing for long periods of time and walking. Many inherited foot conditions (bunions, hammertoes, heel spurs, etc.) can be significantly slowed down in their development and symptoms delayed for several years with adequate control of muscles and foot function through the use of custom orthotics. Dr. Seckel believes treating the etiology with custom orthotics many times renders surgery unnecessary. Like glasses for your eyes are not a cure to your vision but correct it, orthotics are not a cure to the underlying foot problem but properly distribute weight stresses through your foot and relieve symptoms such as burning in the feet and legs, lower back pain, knee pain, foot pain, etc.
Diabetics require special precautionary measures due to the nature of diabetes and its propensity to cause foot problems. Dr. Seckel has a particular passion for preventing problems as he has seen disastrous consequences from improper care or not caring for problems in a timely manner. Diabetes as it relates to the foot can cause numbness, burning, neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease (PVD), infection, delayed healing, and many other problems. It is Dr. Seckel's opinion that all diabetics should visually inspect their feet on a regular basis since diabetes can make feet so numb that the diabetic patient does not realize there is a problem until it becomes a severe problem. Even a simple ingrown toenail can result in loss of limb if it is not properly and timely treated along with their medical doctor's diabetic care.
Gait training as it relates to Dr. Seckel's practice is the act of training muscles to function with maximum efficiency and supporting bones and joints to create balance and optimal foot function. This re-training is followed up with custom orthotics (see Custom Orthotics on this page) in order to maintain the joint integrity and muscle balance. This can be accomplished at any age (the sooner/younger the problem is diagnosed and treated, the more comfortable feet are for a longer period of time). In other words, proper custom orthotics and shoes can many times postpone surgery for years or it can maintain the surgical correction so the original problem does not recur (e.g. heel spurs, bunions, etc.).
While surgical intervention is a last-resort effort, we have an in-office surgical suite for those patients that do require surgery. The advantages of performing surgery in the office rather than in a hospital are numerous in our opinion. Surgery in the office limits exposure to infections, reduces expenses to the patient and the insurance companies, saves time (usually the whole procedure requires you to be in our office less than an hour), and provides an environment that does not require extensive walking.
At Foot Care Center of Guntersville, Dr. Seckel, treats the following foot conditions: bunions, burning feet, calluses, corns, cysts, foot numbness, foot pain, fractures, fungus nails, hammer toes, heel spurs, ingrown toenails, keratotic lesions, neuromas, rashes, tendon pain, tingling, toe deformities, traumatic injuries, warts, wound care, and more... Dr. Seckel's practice includes routine care, injection therapy, gait training, orthotics, counseling, and surgery.
Dr. Seckel uses X-rays to determine problems with bones (e.g. fractures, bone bridges, chips, etc.) and joints (e.g. dislocations, spurs, etc.). X-rays can also be used as an indicator of general health by objectively displaying bone density, trabecular pattern, and weight-stress patterns of the feet.
To conclusively diagnose some foot problems, Dr. Seckel offers state-of-the-art diagnostic ultrasound similar to those used during pregnancy to view growing babies. This technology can definitively identify (by depth, size, and location) connective tissue abnormalities such as plantar fascitis, capsule tears, tendon tears, nerve tumors, dislocations not evident on X-rays, foreign bodies not evident on X-rays, etc.