A podiatrist, also called a doctor of podiatric medicine, is a specialist who provides medical diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems, such as 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 an estimated 15,000 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 patients 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.
- Prescribe 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.
In relation to podiatry biomechanics is the way in which the muscles, bones and joints of the feet and lower limb interact and move. Podiatrists look at functionality specifically in terms of impact absorption and propulsion.
The movements of the foot are defined as pronation and supination which are directly related to absorption and propulsion respectively.
Absorption and Pronation: This is the movement that occurs as the weight of the person moves from the outside of the heel to the inside of the forefoot. It is this movement which enables the foot and leg to adapt to different surfaces and absorb the impact of placing the foot down. While a degree of pronation is required for walking and running too much, or not enough, pronation can cause strain and injury.
Propulsion and Supination: After absorbing the impact of placing the foot down supination commences. This is when the forefoot makes contact with the ground and pushes forward to leverage the heel off the ground, moving the body weight to the front of the foot and toes. Supination is necessary to create the propulsion required for walking and running but too much, or not enough, supination can decrease the ability of the foot to function normally and result in injury or pain.
Podiatrists can assess the biomechanical function of the foot and lower limb and treat abnormalities and malfunction as part of a rehabilitation program after sustaining an injury or via a preventative care strategy to avoid strain and injury.
What can I expect from my appointment?
Each appointment with a specialist at the San Diego Podiatry Group involves a thorough assessment, diagnosis, treatment and management plan for you. Clear explanations regarding conditions will be given and thorough advice will be provided. This gives chance for discussion and for you to be involved in your treatment. Most visits are painless and often instant relief is felt, particularly for superficial skin conditions.
Why do I need to take extra care of my feet if I have diabetes?
Diabetes can adversely affect the nerves and the blood supply to the feet. You may not be able to feel things as well as you used to and sores may not heal as quickly. As a result, simple steps can help to prevent problems developing; avoiding open – toed shoes, checking the temperature before getting into hot baths, having regular checkups with your podiatrist, and not walking around barefoot. These are just some of the recommendations we make to avoid diabetic related foot problems. You will receive full advice and recommendations tailored to you during your assessment