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What exactly is a Podiatrist? (Asking for a friend)

What is a Podiatrist?

A Podiatrist, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), is the only health care professional whose total training focuses on the foot, ankle and related body systems. After obtaining an undergraduate degree, the podiatric doctor spends four years in a college of podiatric medicine to obtain a doctorate degree. Many podiatrists further their education by participating 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. Some of the credentials may include but are not limited to;

• Board Certified Podiatric Physician and Surgeon, ABPS

• Fellow, American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons

• Diplomate, American Board of Podiatric Surgery

• Associate, American Academy Podiatric Sports Medicine

Typically, podiatrists:

• Consult with the patient and other physicians on how to prevent foot problems.

• Diagnoses lower extremity pathology such as tumors, ulcers, fractures, and skin and nail diseases, and congenital and acquired deformities. They are often the first medical specialists to diagnose systemic problems that affect the feet and ankles such as diabetes, gout, hypertension, immunodeficiency, and arthritis.

• Make independent judgments; prescribe medications, x-rays, MRI, ultrasound and other laboratory tests for diagnostic purposes, and orders physical therapy.

• Prescribes or fits patients with inserts called orthotics that address walking patterns to improve the overall ability of effective and efficient walking patterns.

• Treat conditions such as: bone disorders, bunions, corns, calluses, cysts, heel spurs, infections, ingrown nails, and plantar fasciitis.

• Perform surgeries to correct or remedy such problems as bunions, claw toes, fractures, hammertoes, infections, ruptured Achilles, and other ligaments and tendons, and neuro-vascular abnormalities of the foot.

When to visit a Podiatric Surgeon vs an Orthopedic Surgeon?

The rules of medicine apply consistently to both the Podiatric Surgeon as to the Orthopedist, however, where the Orthopedic Surgeon may perform a handful of foot & ankle surgeries a year, the Podiatric Surgeon ONLY works on the foot & ankle. By seeing a wide array of injuries, you can have increased confidence that the foot & ankle specialist can make fine distinctions for diagnosis and treatment for any issue.

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