Choosing a Podiatrist
If you develop a foot or ankle problem, it’s best to seek care from a doctor who specializes in treating injuries and conditions of the feet, such as a podiatrist. If you’re not familiar with the role of a podiatrist or what to look for when deciding who to see for your foot and ankle needs, read on.
What Is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist, or doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), is the only health care professional whose total training focuses on the foot, ankle, and related body systems. The podiatric physician cares for people of all ages. Common disorders of feet include bunions, heel pain/spurs, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails, warts, corns, calluses, sprains, fractures, infections, and injuries.
After earning an undergraduate degree, the podiatric doctor spends four years in a college of podiatric medicine to obtain a doctorate degree. Podiatrists then participate in a post-graduate residency program at an approved hospital or university. Following their doctorate degree, each podiatrist must pass national and state examinations in order to be licensed by the state in which he or she will practice.
In addition, podiatrists may become board certified. Doing so means that he or she has successfully completed a credentialing and examination process and has demonstrated knowledge of podiatric surgery. This includes the diagnosis of general medical problems and surgical management of foot diseases, deformities, and trauma of the foot, ankle, and related structures.
Qualifying boards include the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, American Board of Podiatric Medicine, American Board of Multiple Specialties in Podiatry, and American Board of Lower Extremity Surgery.
When Should I Go to a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist provides care for the bones, soft tissues, and joints of the foot and ankle, as well as skin conditions and abnormal mechanics involving the lower extremity. As such, common conditions treated by a podiatrist include:
- Pain, instability, arthritis, and joint diseases
- Chronic wounds associated with diabetes and other illnesses
- Deformities of the feet
- Fallen arches
- Heel pain and bone spurs
- Ankle, foot, and toe fractures
- Plantar fasciitis
- Calluses and ingrown toenails
If you are experiencing any sort of pain in your feet, you should consult with a podiatrist, especially if you have diabetes.
What Should I Look for in a Podiatrist?
In looking for a podiatrist, you want to choose a doctor who has the best credentials and the most experience treating your particular condition.
You should research and consider their qualifications, education, continuing education, and affiliated hospitals. But most of all, you want to choose a podiatrist that is caring, compassionate, and with whom you feel most comfortable.
These are all terms used to describe doctors of podiatric medicine (DPMs). While all are uniquely qualified in the treatment of the foot and ankle, the number and kinds of surgical procedures performed by podiatrists may vary depending on each individual’s training, experience, and personal interest within their practice.
DPMs receive education and training comparable to medical doctors (MDs) or doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs). This includes four years of undergraduate education, four years of graduate education at a podiatric medical college, and two or three years of hospital-based post-graduate residency training.
Podiatrists regularly treat foot and ankle conditions of patients with chronic illnesses including diabetes, arthritis, obesity, heart disease, and peripheral arterial disease. Because these illnesses can lead to serious foot and ankle problems, a podiatrist can provide proper treatment to help avoid serious complications.
These include surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, and primary care.
That is usually the case. However, not all podiatrists accept all insurance plans. At Cincinnati Foot & Ankle Care, we accept Medicare and most major insurance plans. However, check with your health insurance company regarding foot and ankle services covered under your plan.
The podiatrists at Cincinnati Foot & Ankle Care not only meet all of the criteria of a qualified podiatrist, but also offer patient-centered care focused on your individual needs. To arrange a consultation with one of our podiatrists, call the location nearest to you, or request an appointment online.