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What is a podiatrist?

March 9, 2023
2 minutes

Are your bunions killing you? Is a nail deformed by toe fungus getting you down? Do you have diabetes and feel worried about the health of your feet? A podiatrist may be just what you need.

The prefix “pod-” means “foot” in Greek. These doctors of podiatric medicine (DPM) treat a wide range of conditions involving the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg. Our feet and ankles play a vital role in supporting our overall health and well-being. They let us stand, walk, run, exercise, balance and much more. And we can be hard on them. Most of us log a stunning 75,000 miles on our feet by the time we’re 50 years old. That’s a lot of wear and tear.

So it’s not unusual for problems to develop in either the feet or ankles. And when they do, a podiatrist can diagnose the problem and recommend the best treatment.

When surgery is needed

Conservative treatments, such as medications, orthotics, or taping or strapping can help treat many foot and ankle problems. But sometimes conservative treatments aren’t enough or the right answer to a problem. In those cases, surgery may be recommended. It may be an option for things like:

  • Repairing bunions.
  • Easing the pain of arthritis.
  • Repairing hammertoes.
  • Removing heel spurs.
  • Easing metatarsal pain.
  • Correcting nail damage or deformity due to infections or fungus.
  • Addressing skin conditions, including lipomas, fibromas, warts, moles and rashes.
  • Removing neuromas, a benign enlargement of a nerve that causes numbness, tingling and burning in the toes.
  • Repairing tendon injuries.

Rigorous training

DPMs complete four years of training in a podiatric medical school. They also spend three years in a hospital-based residency program, just like other physicians. They may also complete fellowship training after their hospital residency. Ask your primary care physician how a podiatrist can help get you on your feet again—literally.

Source: American Podiatric Medical Association

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