Most likely you get confused about the doctor of podiatry profession. Podiatry is a field of medicine dedicated to the study, diagnoses, surgical and medical treatment of disorders of the foot, lower extremity and ankle. This article focuses on answering the most common questions people have about podiatrists doctors.
Who are podiatrists doctors?
Podiatrists doctors are medical professionals who deal with feet and lower leg problems. They are also able to treat injuries along with complications from health issues such as diabetes. Some people also call them doctors of podiatric medicine or podiatric physician.
Podiatrists are able to perform surgeries, reset broken bones, perform laboratory tests like X-rays and prescribe medications. In addition to that, they work closely with other medical specialists when the problem affects lower legs or feet. All podiatrists have to be licensed in the Us and they are also regulated by state governments.
Unlike other doctors, podiatrists doctors do not attend traditional medical schools. They have their professional associations and schools. Apart from that, they have “DPM”, which stands for doctor of podiatric medicine after their names instead of MD (medical doctor).
One distinctive feature of this type of doctor is that they are also surgeons. In the majority of cases, medical doctors are not trained to perform surgeries. Therefore, medical doctors may be able to assist you in prescribing medicine or wrapping ankles, but they cannot advise or help with any type of foot or ankle surgery. Podiatry doctors also specialize in a wide range of needs such as surgery for bunions, Achilles tendon disorders, hammertoes, foot and ankle fractures, arthritis and plantar fasciitis.
What kind of training and education do these doctors have?
Students who want to be podiatrists will normally take chemistry, biology and physics classes in college in order to get ready for podiatry school. The majority of them get a Bachelor’s degree in biology or a similar field of science.
Normally, they have 4 years of podiatry school where they study how bones, muscles, and nerves work together in order to help people move. At the same time, they get accustomed to a number of illnesses and injuries that might affect your feet. The education program also includes the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases. According to a recent study, there are 9 podiatry schools in the United States, which are accredited by the APMD (American Podiatric Medical Association).
When students complete a podiatry school program they have to work in a hospital for 3 years. In other words, it is called a residency and this is a place where they put what they have learned to use. It is also possible for them to work with doctors in other fields of specialization, such as surgeons, pediatricians, anesthesiologists and professionals in infectious diseases. When they complete this 3-year training in a hospital it becomes possible to get advanced certifications in surgery on ankles and feet.
What conditions do podiatrists treat?
As mentioned above , podiatrists treat a lot of foot-related conditions in people of any age. They are as follows:
- Sprains and fractures: they normally treat these common injuries when they affect an ankle or foot. Additionally, they can also work with professional athletes in order to treat their injuries and make recommendations on how to avoid them.
- Nail disorders: this involves all the infections in your nail, which is caused by a fungus or ingrown toenail. This is a condition when a side or corner of your nail grows into your toe instead of straight out.
- Diabetes: this is an illness when your body does not produce enough hormone called insulin or does not use it the way it should. This hormone helps to digest sugar. This condition can damage nerves in your legs or feet and you might also have difficulties with getting enough blood to your feet.
- Hammertoes and bunions: these illnesses affect bones in your feet. A bunion occurs when a joint at the base of your big toe becomes bigger or gets knocked out of place, which makes the toes bend toward the others. A hammertoe is a condition where the second toe is bent. .
- Growing pains: this is a situation where the feet point inward, look flat or the toes do not line up. A podiatrist is able to manage these problems. He/she will recommend exercises, braces or insoles. In some cases, surgery might be required.
- Arthritis: this problem can be caused by inflammation, wear and tear on your joints and swelling. A podiatrists doctor might advise physical therapy, prescribe medications or insist on using special shoes or inserts. Just as with growing pains, surgery can also be an option in the case that other treatments do not work for you.
- Heel pain: it is typically caused by heel spurs and/or a buildup of calcium at the bottom of your heel bone. All the aforementioned can result from ill-fitting shoes, running, or as a result of extra weight. Treatment of this condition normally starts with OTC (over-the-counter) pain medications and might also involve the use of shoe inserts called orthotics. However, some severe cases require surgical intervention.
- Morton’s neuroma: Pain, burning and feeling that there is something in your shoe can be caused by nerve problems between the third and fourth bones of your foot. This is a common problem for runners. This situation can get worse because of tight shoes and overpronation. Surgery might be required to manage this condition.
What to expect during the first visit?
Your first visit to a podiatrist doctor is not going to differ from a visit to any other doctor. You will be asked questions about your medical history, medications that you currently take and whether you have had any surgeries.
A podiatrist will also assess the way you stand and walk, evaluate the range of motions in your joints and examine how your shoes fit. The first visit is normally time to treat conditions like ingrown toenails, bunions, lower back and heel pain as well as circulation in your feet in case if you have diabetes and/or foot deformities. It should be also said that some conditions can be treated in the office. This can be done with the use of nail splitters or nail anvil to get rid of ingrown toenails or syringes to provide you with pain medications. Scalpels are typically utilized for the purpose of cutting the skin around a toenail or removing parts of calluses and corns. There are also a lot of doctors who use cryotherapy equipment to freeze off plantar warts.
When is it time to visit a podiatrist?
As you probably know your feet perform a lot of work during the day. By the age of 50, you will have walked more than 75,000 miles. Your feet are complex structures with a number of tendons, bones, and ligaments that have to work together to allow you to move. If you encounter the following problems, it might be the perfect time to visit a podiatrist doctor:
- Severe foot pain
- Cracks and/or cuts in your skin
- Growths like warts
- Discolored or thick toenails
- Scaling on peeling on your shoes