A podiatrist, sometimes simply called a “foot doctor,” is a surgeon and/or doctor who treats conditions pertaining to the ankle, foot, and related structures of the leg. Although it might seem that feet are simple structures, they are in actuality pretty complex. They are our shock absorbers, stabilizers, and propulsion engines. Therefore, when something is wrong as it relates to this region of the body, it can easily have a negative impact on a person’s overall well-being and health. Consequently, podiatrists serve a needed role. They are able to do so, thanks to the fact that they are experts of the feet and related regions and are uniquely qualified to address these conditions, ensuring small foot problems don’t escalate.
What Special Qualifications Should a Podiatrist Have?
If you are considering a visit to a podiatrist, such as the professionals at Red Mountain Footcare, you must look for the letters D.P.M after the doctor’s name. This indicates they are a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. The D.P.M distinction means they have successfully completed years of rigorous ankle and foot training in a podiatric based medical school, along with completing hospital-based residency training. Podiatrists complete four years of podiatric medical school training, followed by three years of residency training in a hospital. Their training is similar to the way other physicians are trained. Podiatrists have the option of focusing on a wide variety of fields, such as diabetic care, pediatrics, wound care, sports medicine and surgery. Podiatrists with advanced training and clinical experience can take an exam to earn board certification and become part of the American Board of Podiatric Medicine and the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.
What Makes Podiatrists Different From Other Doctors?
Podiatrists have extensive training in the physiology and anatomy of the human body and are specifically trained in problems and diseases related to the ankles and feet. The treatments podiatrists can offer patients range from non-invasive to surgical. As part of their training, podiatrists attend podiatry school as mentioned above. During this time, they study how the muscles, nerves, and bones work together to help you move around. They also delve deep into the injuries and illnesses that can negatively impact the feet. This includes not only how to fix and/or treat the conditions, but how to diagnose them in the first place. This special training relating to conditions of the feet and ankles differ from the training a general practitioner receives.
What Podiatrists Can Do: Short List
Podiatrists can do the following in an office or surgical setting:
- Order X-rays and/or tests.
- Prescribe drugs.
- Reset broken bones.
- Perform surgery.
- Treat any number of injuries, diseases, conditions, problems related to the foot and ankle regions.
Common Ailments and Conditions Treated by Podiatrists
There are many conditions podiatrists see in their office and treat on a regular basis. The following are just a few of the most common:
- Heel Spurs, Hammertoes, Bunions: This is a problem relating to the bone within the feet. Heel spurs are a painful condition that occurs when calcium builds up at the bottom of the heel. Hammertoe occurs when one of the toes isn’t bending in the correct direction, causing pain and discomfort. Bunions happen when the joint situated at the base of the big toe becomes too large and is moved out of place.
- Sprains or Fractures: Podiatrists also treat injuries related to the ankle or foot on a regular basis. This is especially true if they work in the sports medicine field.
- Diabetes: Diabetic patients are at an increased risk of problems with regard to their feet due to poor nerve circulation and blood flow issues related to their disease. Podiatrists serve a valuable role in their patient’s lives as they prevent many common conditions with regular checkups and are specifically trained on how to handle the problems associated with diabetic foot conditions. Some 65,000 people have their foot amputated on a yearly basis due to diabetes-related foot problems, which proves the need for diabetics, in particular, to regularly visit a podiatrist to prevent problems from progressing to this point.
- Nail Disorders: This can include painful ingrown toenails, fungus issues or even a nail infection. An ingrown toenail is a painful condition that occurs when the side of the nail grows into the toe instead of outward.
- Arthritis: You might not realize it since it’s a small space, but the foot actually has 33 joints. When a person suffers from arthritis, any of the 33 joints affected can become inflamed and swell, adding additional wear and tear to the joints. This is obviously a painful condition that thankfully podiatrist can help treat. They will often recommend inserts or special shoes, drugs, or physical therapy to help their patients cope with this painful problem. In some instances, they might even recommend surgery as a last resort to remedy the problem.
- Growing Pains: Sometimes, the human body doesn’t grow exactly right, which causes toes to become misaligned, or a flat foot to occur. Some children’s feet even grow to point towards each other. Podiatrists can offer solutions to correct these issues while children are still growing. They often recommend braces, insoles or exercises. In some more severe cases, they opt for surgery to repair growth-related issues.
The role of a podiatrist is one of great importance. After all, without being able to walk on your feet, without pain or discomfort, you will not have the mobility your life demands. In addition, if you have a condition like diabetes, podiatrists can provide life-altering care that will prevent a devastating outcome from occurring, such as amputation. Contact Red Mountain Footcare today for more information about podiatry and how it can better your life.