Unlike doctors and other caregivers, a podiatrist studies medicine, but specializes in treating foot and ankle problems. They go through four years of undergrad education, followed by four years of medical school. In the next two years of their medical training, they start dealing with surgical interventions, surgical training, and specifically with the foot. Then they further increase their knowledge and hands-on skill in three to four years of their podiatry residency. This is what gives podiatrists an advantage over other doctors when it comes to foot problems.
But here is the question, what does a podiatrist do?
If you have a foot or ankle problem, it’s more than likely you have heard of a podiatrist. Maybe you have been recommended to a podiatrist in Houston even. However, you could be wondering what they do, and why you need to see them. In this article, we will give you insight into all this and so much more.
Roles of a podiatrist
Podiatrists are medical experts who have been trained to diagnose and treat any foot and ankle problems. They also protect against and correct deformity; treat infections; relieve pain, and help keep people active and mobile.
Podiatrists can treat and alleviate common foot issues like verrucas, toenail problems, athlete’s foot, corn and calluses, sports injuries, gout, blisters, aging feet, heel pain, bunions, flat feet, smelly feet, blisters and dry & cracked heels.
But their role isn’t just restricted to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of foot problems. These experts can also offer advice to you and your loved ones regarding how to maintain a healthy foot and ankle.
How podiatrists help
As stated earlier, podiatrists are medical specialists who help to diagnose and treat abnormal conditions of feet and lower limbs. They also offer advice and treatment for a range of foot problems. But there are other ways that these professionals can help.
For instance, if you are suffering from heel or arch pain, your podiatrist can supply orthotics, which are customized padding, insoles, and arch support to help alleviate the pain and discomfort. Often, they will place the orthotic into your shoe to make the shoe more comfortable, reduce pressure from vulnerable areas of your foot, or realign your foot.
Additionally, a podiatrist can also treat diabetes. You may not think this is a foot problem, but its effect often winds up affecting the foot or lower limbs. Diabetes is a condition where the body either does not make insulin or does not utilize it as needed. This hormone, insulin, helps to break down sugar. But if it fails, then the patient may end up with damaged nerves in their legs or feet and might have a hard time getting sufficient blood to their feet.
Podiatrists will also address Morton’s neuroma, a nerve issue that happens between the third and fourth bones on the foot that results in burning, pain, and a feeling of having something in the shoe. It is synonymous with runners. In this case, a podiatrist will offer shots to alleviate pain and inflammation and also helps one find an orthotic. Sometimes, they may even perform surgery to remove Morton’s neuroma.
What to expect in your visit
At your first consultation, your doctor will take time to understand your medical history and perform a series of basic tests like feeling your feet and checking the blood circulation. They may also ask you to walk across the room to observe how you move your lower limb. After that, they will make a diagnosis and come up with a treatment plan. If yours is a minor problem, the podiatrist will address the issue right away. This will only take about 30-60 minutes and is usually painless. Complicated problems might take a longer time to diagnose and treat.
So, depending on your problem, the podiatrist may recommend padding, orthotics, or physical therapy to address your foot or lower limb issues. They can treat some condition in the facility and use syringes to administer pain medication or nail navil/splitters to get rid of ingrown toenails.
A word of caution
Although podiatrists are specially trained to address foot and lower limb issues, it doesn’t mean that all of them can administer quality solutions. That’s why you have to take time to do your research upfront, before settling for any option. A good idea would be to find a podiatrist who handles procedures that are similar to yours regularly and is happy to serve clients. Reading through customer reviews and testimonials and also finding out their industry reputation will go a long way in helping you make the right decision.