A podiatrist, also called a doctor of podiatric medicine, is a specialist who provides medical diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems, including, but not limited to sprains and fractures, bunions, heel pain/spurs, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails, warts, corns and calluses. A podiatrist also renders care of sprains, fractures, infections, and injuries of the foot, ankle and heel. In addition to undergraduate medical school training, podiatrists also attend graduate school for a doctorate degree in podiatry. Podiatrists are required to take state and national exams, as well as be licensed by the state in which they practice.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, there are more than 17,800 practicing podiatrists in the United States. Podiatrists are in demand more than ever today because of a rapidly aging population. In addition, according to the association, foot disorders are among the most widespread and neglected health problems affecting people in this country.
- Consult with the patient and other physicians on how to prevent foot problems.
- Diagnose and treat tumors, ulcers, fractures, skin and nail diseases, and deformities.
- Perform surgeries to correct or remedy such problems as bunions, clawtoes, fractures, hammertoes, infections, ruptured Achilles, and other ligaments and tendons.
- Prescribe therapies and perform diagnostic procedures such as ultrasound and lab tests.
- Prescribes or fits patients with inserts called orthotics that correct walking patterns.
- Treat conditions such as: bone disorders, bunions, corns, calluses, cysts, heel spurs, infections, ingrown nails, and plantar fasciitis.
When To Call a Doctor
You have persistent pain in your feet or ankles. You have noticeable change to your nails or skin. Your feet are severely cracking, scaling, or peeling. There are blisters on your feet.
Signs of bacterial infection include: Increased pain, swelling, redness, tenderness, or heat. Red streaks extending from the affected area. Discharge of pus. Fever of 100°F (37.78°C) or higher with no other cause. Symptoms that do not improve after two weeks of treatment with a non-prescription product.
Spreading of the infection to other areas, such as the nail bed, or skin under the nail, the nail itself, or the surrounding skin.
You have heel pain accompanied by a fever, redness (sometimes warmth) or numbness or tingling in your heel, or persistent pain without putting any weight or pressure on your heel, or the pain is not alleviated by ice, aspirin, (or ibuprofen or acetaminophen).
You have diabetes or certain diseases associated with poor circulation and you develop athlete’s foot. People with diabetes are at increased risk for a severe bacterial infection of the foot and leg if they have athlete’s foot.