If you are dealing with pain in your lower legs and feet, you may be able to get some answers and viable treatment options by seeing a podiatrist. The more that you know about podiatry and how it can help you, the better chance you will have of putting the right plan of action in motion.
What Do Podiatrists Do?
A podiatrist is a type of medical specialist who focuses on issues with the lower legs, ankles, and feet. They are helpful for assisting with complications of ongoing health problems as well as injuries. It is not all that uncommon to hear a podiatrist referred to as a doctor of podiatric medicine or a podiatric physician.
While a podiatrist is a doctor, they do not go through traditional medical school. Instead, they go through professional associations and podiatry schools to get the certification necessary to practice. You will notice that rather than having MD after their name, podiatrists have DPM, which stands for doctor of podiatric medicine.
A podiatrist can reset broken bones, perform surgery, order x-rays or lab tests, and prescribe drugs for pain and treatment. You will also see that podiatrists work very closely with other specialists as a way to address issues of the lower legs and feet. Throughout the United States, podiatrists are fully regulated and licensed via state governments.
For schooling, students working to become podiatrists will take courses like science, physics, biology, and chemistry. There is also podiatry school for four years, where they learn all about the muscles, bones, and nerves and how they all work together. After podiatry school, they then work in a hospital setting for three years during a residence and work with other doctors, pediatricians, surgeons, and other specialists.
Areas of Treatment
There could be any number of reasons why someone might want to see a podiatrist, including conditions of the legs and feet such as:
Hammertoes and bunions – These occur with the bones throughout the feet. Bunions take place at the base of the big toe where the joint gets knocked out of place or grows bigger. A hammertoe is a toe that fails to bend the right way.
Sprains and fractures – Common injuries of the foot and ankle like a sprain or fracture are often treated by a podiatrist. They often work in sports medicine where injuries such as these are very prominent.
Diabetes – Many patients with diabetes will see podiatrists to assist with foot care and preventative medicine. Diabetes is known for causing a range of complications, including slowed blood flow to the feet.
Nail disorders – There are some nail disorders best treated by a podiatrist, including ingrown toenails, fungus, and more.
Heel pain – Heel spurs are a common cause for heel pain where calcium builds up on the bottom of the bone in the heel. This can come on from being overweight, wearing ill-fitted shoes, and running. Other heel pain issues include overpronation, plantar fasciitis, and more.
When to See a Podiatrist
Because the feet do a significant amount of work throughout your lifetime and there are so many tendons, ligaments, and bones involved, there are many times where seeing a podiatrist for issues and pain becomes the best course of action. You should always call a podiatrist for care if you have:
- Foot or heel pain
- Cuts or cracks in the skin on your lower extremities
- Discolored or thick nails
- Warts and other growths
- Peeling or scaling skin on the soles of your feet
During Your Visit
When you see our team at Mill Creek Foot & Ankle Clinic for a podiatry appointment, we will ask questions regarding your medical history, inquire about any surgeries that you have had, and what medications you are currently taking. You will be asked to stand and walk; we will check to see how your shoes fit and also make a note of the motion you have in your joints. It is crucial for us to get a clear picture of your health issues as well as the different ways that we can get you the treatment that you need.