I write a tremendous amount about foot health and foot care issues. The truth is, that's what I know best! I'm a podiatrist who practices in Houston, TX. I still am amazed, however, that so many people think a podiatrist works with kids. Well, we do … just their feet, though. I thought it is important to get back to basics about what a podiatrist is and does.
Podiatrists are specialized health care professionals that focus on the foot and ankle. To become a podiatrist one most get a bachelors degree from a 4 year university, then go through 4 years of Podiatric Medical School, where they are awarded a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree (DPM). They then go through two to three years of a hospital-based residency program, which qualifies the podiatrist to be certified in surgery of the forefoot or the whole foot and ankle.
There are many reasons why a person would go to a podiatrist for medical attention. A good way to think of the elements of podiatry is to break it up into 4 categories: Diabetic foot care and wound care, pediatric foot care, biomechanics, and surgery. Many diabetics end up becoming regular patients at podiatry offices due to the side effects of diabetes such as peripheral neuropathy and ulcerations. Wound care of the foot is also a very important element of podiatry. Podiatrists use some of the most advanced wound systems, advanced wound dressings, and medicated ointments to help heal people with foot wounds.
Podiatrists also see many pediatric patients. Many pediatric patients are brought to a podiatrist for some sort of biomechanical deformity such as in toeing or toe walking, but also commonly come in with plantar warts or ingrown toenails. Biomechanics involves abnormal foot function that can cause pain due to tendinitis, heel pain, and also causes foot deformities such as bunions and hammertoes. Finally, surgery is a significant part of any podiatrists' experience. Surgery can range from ingrown toenails, to bunion and hammertoe correction, to amputations of infected parts of the foot.
Podiatrists are unlike any other specialty in medicine in that they must know a great deal about many specialties like dermatology, surgery, pharmacology, radiology, neurology, as well as much more. Podiatrists write their own prescriptions, read their own x-rays and perform their own surgeries. Although podiatry is still considered to be a newer medical profession it is a much respected occupation. Podiatry as a whole is growing leaps and bounds due to the increasing weight of the US population as well as the increasing numbers of diabetics. Everything trickles down and affects the feet.
I love being a podiatrist. I feel like I make a difference in my patients overall health on a daily basis. I recommend the profession and hope you don't hesitate to see one if you suffer from any foot or ankle pain.