A podiatrist is a doctor that specializes in ailments of the feet, ankles, and lower legs. They address injuries that are both acute and due to wear, treat general conditions and chronic pain, as well as complications in the feet and ankles due to systemic diseases such as diabetes, circulatory disorders, arthritis, and more.
Podiatrists can write prescriptions for medications, lab tests, and diagnostic imaging. They can also perform a gait analysis and prescribe custom orthotic shoe inserts. Many podiatrists are also surgeons and can reset broken bones and perform a variety of procedures—either minimally invasive or open surgery.
A Podiatrist’s Education and Training
Podiatrists will first get their undergraduate degree in a science-related field such as biology or chemistry. Four years in podiatry school will follow and culminate with a Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine degree. After that, they will receive three years of postgraduate training in the form of a residency at a hospital, where they will receive advanced certifications in surgery for the feet and ankles. Some podiatrists will pursue additional training after that, while others will go into practice.
What Conditions Does a Podiatrist Treat?
Most podiatrists will treat a variety of conditions for people of all ages including:
- Heel pain
- Foot deformities such as hammertoes and bunions
- Disorders of the nails
- Complications due to Diabetes including wounds and ulcers
- Pediatric Foot and Ankle Conditions
- Geriatric Foot and Ankle Conditions
- Morton’s neruoma
A Visit to the Podiatrist
Your first visit to the podiatrist will begin with a review of your medical history and go over any symptoms you are experiencing. Then a physical examination will be performed. They may want to see how you walk and stand, and they may also test your range of motion. Many conditions can be diagnosed right away, while others may need to be confirmed after assessing lab tests or diagnostic imaging.
Podiatrists will treat conditions with traditional therapies, orthoses, medications, physical therapy, or advanced therapies using lasers, ultrasound, shockwave therapy, and much more. If your condition does not respond to more conservative therapies, your podiatrist may suggest surgery to correct your issue.