Who Is A Podiatric Surgeon?
A podiatrist is a doctor, but not just any doctor but a doctor who specializes in the treatment and care of the lower limbs (with particular attention to the feet and ankles)!
Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) are physicians or surgeons who treat the foot, ankle, and related bones and joints of the leg. The title ‘chiropodist’ is an old, outdated way of referring to a podiatrist—which you may have heard before. A podiatrist has the title DPM in front of their name, just like how a regular doctor has the title DR in front of theirs.
The podiatrist who is a specialist in foot surgery is known as a podiatric surgeon. They are certified by the board to handle both diagnosis of general foot health and surgery for disorders of the foot and ankle.
For a podiatrist to work in any state, they have to be licensed. This license has to be renewed every few years or they won’t be able to work. It is also necessary for them to keep themselves informed about the current news and developments in their field in order to give the best care available to their patients. They may do this by attending training seminars or reading journals.
The education of a podiatrists begins with four years of undergraduate study followed by a four year course in an accredited podiatric medical school, which is then marked as complete by three to four years of residency at a hospital where they put their knowledge to practice and gain more experience in the field.
To be deemed qualified by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine, a podiatrist needs to pass all the required exams set by the board. Some podiatrists can also choose to take on more specialized roles that focus on specific areas of treatment, such as foot & ankle reconstruction or plastic surgery—to name a few.
This stringent process ensures that every podiatrist has the necessary knowledge to properly care for your feet.
Care of The Feet
Podiatrists care for patients of all ages, shapes and sizes (not only old folks have problems with their feet!). Because of this it is expected that they would be able to provide treatment for a variety of different foot conditions in the same way you would get treated by your family doctor.
Some areas that a podiatrist can be specialized in are listed as follows:
- Sports Medicine
- Reconstructive Surgery
- Podiatric Diabetology (treating the foot conditions that occur with diabetes)
- Podopediatrics (foot problems in children)
- High-risk Wound Care [and more…]
If you have a persistent pain in your feet it might be necessary to see a podiatrist but even if your foot doesn’t hurt, it’s a good idea to have your feet checked once in a while. A podiatrist can safely remove the calluses on your feet and clip your toenails correctly (to avoid getting ingrown nails). A podiatrist will also be able to tell you what kind of shoe is best for the shape of your feet (in order to avoid unnecessary discomfort).
|Infections Of The Foot (Athletes’ Foot)
|Fractures or Broken Bones
|Correcting Walking Patterns
|Blisters & Warts
|Corns & Bunions
|Orthotics to support/strengthen the foot (braces and insoles)
Certain health conditions may cause or make you prone to foot problems, These include:
- Heart Disease or Stroke
- High Cholesterol Levels
- Poor Circulation
Diabetic patients are more susceptible to having foot problems. Carefully observing any change in how your feet feel or keeping a record of the symptoms regarding your feet can help with future diagnosis. Treating the underlying condition itself can also help alleviate foot pain.
It would be best to let your podiatrist know if you have any symptoms of foot complications caused by diabetes:
- Sharp/Burning Pain
- Sores & Ulcers
- Cracking Skin
- Dry & Cracking Toenails
- Calf (back of the lower leg) pain during walks
It might be necessary to see both a podiatrist and your usual doctor (or family doctor) if you start having pains or get an injury in any part of the foot. You are also likely to pay visits to other specialists for further treatment if physiotherapy can help relieve your symptoms. Your feet need to be examined by your doctor (podiatrist or otherwise) to discover the reason for your pain.
Tests and scans for foot pain include:
- A Blood Test
- CT scan
- Nail Swab
- MRI scan
Reasons To See A Podiatrist
- Flat feet: It might be necessary to wear orthotics (orthopedic support) like arch supports or foot braces to reduce pain (in the case of flat feet) and to give support to weak/injured foot ligaments. Molds of your feet are taken to ensure that your orthotics fit just right!
- Nail Infection: If the pain in your foot is a result of a health condition, your usual doctor might be able to give treatment. For example, a fungal nail infection can be treated with antifungal medication.
- Gout or Arthritis: These two conditions can cause you to feel pain (in your feet and toes). Treatment of gout and arthritis will alleviate this pain.
- Diabetes can damage the nerves in your feet. This often leads to pain, numbness, and sores on your feet and legs. If your foot issues are because of diabetes, you’ll need to see both a podiatrist and other doctors who specialize in treatment of the nerves and blood vessels.
- Joint pain/problems: It might be necessary to see a podiatrist (and other doctors specializing in the treatment of bones) to treat an ankle or knee problem. Long-term physical therapy may also be required to strengthen the muscles and joints in your legs.
When To See A Podiatrist
The foot is a small but complex part of the body, comprising 26 bones—and a number of joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
All of these make your feet the perfect limb to help you be active and mobile, while also supporting the weight of your entire body.
Foot pain limits your movement. It can make you walk with a limp and your unbalanced gait can eventually affect your hips, back and spine. Other health conditions damage your feet if they aren’t treated on time.
See a podiatrist if your foot hurts persistently or you get a painful injury. Urgent medical care may be required if you have any of these symptoms persist for more than a few days:
- Severe Pain
- Infection (you might even get a fever)
- Open Sores and Wounds
Notify your podiatrist or family doctor immediately if you are able to walk or put weight on your foot.
Podiatrists are specialists of the foot who spent years studying and training just to help keep your feet healthy. Getting your feet examined by your podiatrist (even when you have healthy feet) helps prevent future foot problems… And if your feet do have a problem, they will diagnose it and craft the best treatment plan tailored to you.
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