Podiatrists are medical experts who provide their help with problems that majorly affect your lower legs or feet. They are knowledgeable enough to treat any foot injuries or any complications that may occur from ongoing health diseases like diabetes. You might hear your doctor or general physician call for a podiatric medicine doctor or a podiatric physician.
Are They Regular Doctors?
A podiatrist is a doctor, but he or she doesn’t attend a traditional medical school setting. They study their field of medicine in their own schools and professional organizations. After acquiring the needed education, knowledge and expertise, the Doctor of Podiatric Medicine “DPM” is added against their names instead of a medical doctor “MD.”
A podiatrist can perform surgery, prescribe drugs and medicines, order X-rays or lab tests or reset broken bones too. They work with other specialists, too, when a problem affects the lower legs or feet. A podiatrist is licensed and regulated by the state government in the US.
Which Conditions Can a Podiatrist Treat?
A podiatrist can treat individuals aged 2 to 100 or even more for most foot-related conditions, including:
Hammertoes and Bunions:
Both of these problems occur with the bones in your feet. A bunion occurs when the joint at the base of your big toe gets knocked out of place or becomes bigger in size. This leads to the toe bending toward the other toes. In contrast, a hammertoe is the one that doesn’t bend the right way.
Sprains and Fractures:
A podiatrist regularly comes across people who suffer from sprains and fractures on a daily basis and treat these common injuries that occur in the foot or the ankle. Some podiatrist specialists also work for sports teams and groups to treat everyday foot problems which athletes face and teach them ways to avoid them.
It is a condition in which your body does not make insulin or fails to use it the way it should. It is a hormone present in our bodies that helps us digest sugar. Diabetes is a condition that can occur in children and adults. It can damage the nerves in your legs or feet, making it difficult for enough blood to get to your feet. When certain complications tend to happen in diabetic patients, the only solution is to get their foot amputated by a doctor. If a patient timely consults a podiatrist, amputation of the leg can be prevented. If you or any other family member has diabetes, it is best to get any soreness or callus that may occur on your feet checked out.
Disorders in the nails occur when an infection is caused by an ingrown toenail or due to the presence of fungus. That’s when a bumpy corner or the side of a nail starts to grow into your toe instead of straight out.
If your child’s feet look flat or point inward or they don’t line up right, a podiatrist might be of great help. They recommend insoles, braces and different exercises to perform. They can also recommend a surgical procedure.
Any swelling, inflammation, or wearing and tearing in your joints causes arthritis. It is more common in middle-aged women than in men. Each of your feet contains 33 joints. A podiatrist may recommend drugs, special shoes, even physical therapy or insert special medicated soles to help treat arthritis. If any of these treatments don’t work well for you, your podiatrist can also recommend a surgical procedure to treat arthritis.
A common reason why heel pain occurs is heel spurs. It is caused by a buildup of calcium at the bottom of your heel bone. It can happen due to excessive running, shoes that don’t fit right or even obesity. Sports shoes, or the ones that don’t provide any support, usually cause Plantar Fasciitis. It is an inflammation of the band of connective tissues that run along the bottom of your foot. This condition makes your foot bend in or out too far every time you walk, which is often a cause.
When Do You Need to See a Podiatrist?
We can’t really say who does the most work in your body, but the feet do most of the work as they help you move from one place to another. When you have reached the age of 50, you would have walked 75,000 miles on them alone. Your feet are complex structures of compositions containing many tendons, ligaments, and mainly bones that work together perfectly to help you keep moving.
You may need to see a podiatrist when you feel any foot pain, discoloured or thick nails, any cuts or cracks in your skin that you aren’t aware of, warts like growth or scaling or peeling on your foot soles.
What to Expect From a Podiatrist?
Your initial visit to a podiatrist would feel a lot like seeing any other doctor. There will be a question and answer session about your medical history, the medications you take, or any surgeries you have had in the past.
They will closely examine the way you walk or how you stand, the range of motion in your joints, and see how your shoes fit. Initial visits are often the time to treat any ingrown toenails, bunions, lower back and heel pain, and blood circulation in your feet if you have diabetes and any foot deformities.
The podiatrist might suggest you do padding, orthotics or physical therapy to treat your foot conditions. They may treat some of them in their office only by using tools like syringes to ease your pain and nail anvil or nail splitters to remove ingrown toenails. They also use a scalpel to cut into the skin around your toenail or remove parts of calluses and corns. Most of them use liquid nitrogen as cryotherapy equipment to freeze off plantar warts.
What’s the Difference Between a Podiatrist and a Chiropractor?
A podiatrist and a chiropractor are both healthcare specialists who treat many different structural ailments that occur in the human body. A podiatrist specifically treats conditions related to your legs, feet, or ankles, whereas a chiropractor examines and treats most parts of the body, especially focusing on the spinal cord. After a condition is diagnosed, a chiropractor provides advanced chiropractic treatment through adjusting the joints and spinal column while also providing massage therapy. A podiatrist provides treatment through surgical procedures, pain-relieving medications and the prescription of orthotics.