Understanding the Role of Your Podiatrist in Overall Health Care
A podiatrist, or a doctor of podiatric medicine, is a specialist for foot and ankle problems. A podiatrist can diagnose and treat problems in the feet and ankles, including bunions, spurs, heel pain, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails, warts, corns and even calluses. Podiatrists can also treat sprains in ankles or feet, fractures in ankles or feet, or even fractures in the toes, infections, and other injuries of the foot and/or ankle. Podiatrists go to graduate school for a doctorate degree in podiatry after attending undergraduate medical school training. Doctors of podiatric medicine are required to take state and national exams, and all podiatrists have to be licensed by the state they practice in.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, an estimated 15,000 podiatrists are practicing in the United States. Due to a rapidly aging population, the need for podiatrists is growing all the time. Foot problems are one of the most widespread and neglected health problems that affects people in the U.S.
Here are a few things a podiatrist does:
- Consults with patients and other physicians on how to prevent foot problems.
- Diagnoses and treats foot and ankle deformities, injuries, and other problems.
- Performs surgical procedures to correct or remedy problems in the foot or ankle.
- Prescribes therapies and performs diagnostic tests, like ultrasound and lab tests to properly diagnose patients.
- Prescribes and/or fits patients with shoe inserts or custom orthotics to relieve foot pain or correct foot problems.