Podiatrists are professionally trained health care providers of what’s known as podiatric medicine. They are the only health care professionals who focus on providing care for the foot, ankle and other related body systems that exclusively pertain to the feet.
All podiatrists are trained to specialize in foot care, particularly through receiving extensive training in the diagnosis, treatment and subsequent prevention of foot and ankle related disorders through both medical and surgical means.
About your podiatrist
Podiatric physicians care for foot-related problems in people of all ages. They most commonly treat disorders like heel pain and/or spurs, hammer toes, neuromas, corns, ingrown toenails, calluses and warts. Podiatrics also handle the care of fractures, infections and other injuries of the heel, ankle and the entire foot.
Doctors of podiatric medicine or podiatrics generally detect serious health problems, as many side effects do manifest within the body’s lower extremities. These conditions can include diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and arthritis. In addition to handling basic foot and ankle care, podiatrics also handle various surgical procedures, orthopedics, dermatology, physical medicine and rehabilitation geared toward the feet.
Your podiatric physician should be certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. Both certifications indicate that they successfully completed an examination and credentialing process that further demonstrated their extensive knowledge of podiatric surgery and the diagnosis of general medical problems of the foot.
In general, podiatric medicine is a branch of the medical sciences that focuses entirely on the study of human movement, and its association with medical care designed for the foot and ankle. Podiatric physicians are much like an ophthalmologist and a dentist to the eyes and mouth respectively, having been trained to care for a specific part of the body.
Why do you need a podiatrist?
Many people assume that they don’t need a podiatrist, but they often don’t realize the importance of getting proper medical care for their feet. A podiatrist is a medical professional that knows exactly how to care and treat medical conditions in feet, which can prevent most people from having to seek continual foot care from their general doctor.
When people need a podiatrist, they typically need assistance and/or medical care to resolve issues with their feet. As an example, people who feel pain within the feet might go to a podiatrist to find out the source of that pain and receive a proper diagnosis.
A podiatrist generally treats patients of the following conditions and/or completes these tasks during a regular visit:
- Evaluating nerve impairment symptoms like numbness, tingling and/or burning sensations in the feet.
- Evaluating foot structure and function, in addition to treating disorders like high arches and flat feet.
- Evaluating the feet and performing preventative foot care for people with diabetes and other chronic health conditions.
- Treating painful conditions like heel and/or joint pain.
- Treating corns and calluses, toenail infections, discoloration and/or thickness problems.
- Treating skin infections and/or lesions like warts.
According to podiatrists themselves, the best time to consult a podiatrist is when unexplainable pain, numbness, tingling, burning or a loss of function extending past a week starts affecting the feet.
In addition, extreme cases of pain, numbness and/or swelling should always be treated by a podiatrist first, as they likely understand the source of the problem first. Many, if not all, podiatrists use x-rays, ultrasound and other tools and techniques to quickly find a diagnosis for a foot problem.
Podiatrists know when to prescribe the right medication and perform the surgery needed to correct possible problems with the structure of the feet. If you have a problem with your feet, why not get in touch with a podiatrist to help correct that problem?