The health and mobility of your feet and ankles play an important role in your overall health, especially if you have an underlying condition such as diabetes. A podiatrist can assess your feet and help devise a treatment program to improve and maintain your health. Learn more about what a podiatrist is, what they do and what to expect when you make an appointment.
A podiatrist is someone who’s earned a Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine. Their education track starts very similarly to an MD, with most earning a bachelor’s degree in biology or another science-based discipline. Then, they go on to podiatry school, which involves another four years of in-depth study in the processes and functions that surround the feet and ankles. Podiatrists are trained in evaluating the feet, diagnosing any presenting issues and correcting those issues. After a podiatrist graduates from podiatry school, they go on to residency, which is where they work in a hospital under supervision of other doctors. After residency, podiatrists may go on to their own practices or get advanced training and certifications in surgery for the ankles and feet.
What Does a Podiatrist Do?
A podiatrist can help with a variety of issues, and they’re a vital part of the health team for those who have health conditions that affect the extremities, such as diabetes. Some of the common issues people see a podiatrist for include:
- Pain. Pain in the ankle or foot isn’t something you just have to live with, although many people do. A podiatrist can help determine the underlying problem and develop a treatment plan to address the issue and mitigate pain for more comfort and a better range of motion.
- Hammertoes, bunions and nail problems. These issues are all specific to the feet, and you’ll need to see a podiatric specialist for a full evaluation.
- Neuropathy. Tingling, numbness and burning pain in your feet or ankle can be a sign of nerve damage or a pinched nerve. It’s also a common complication of diabetes. A podiatrist can help you find out what’s causing the issue and either help you resolve it.
What You Need to Know Before Visiting a Podiatrist
When you go to a podiatrist for the first time, they’ll ask for a full medical history, including any other health conditions you have, any previous surgeries and what medications you’re currently taking. When you arrive, the medical assistant may take your vital signs and ask for a description of the issues you want to talk to the doctor about today. Then, they’ll likely examine your feet and ankles, including looking at how you walk and stand, what your range of motion in your ankles is and how your shoes fit. After the evaluation, the podiatrist may want to do more testing or may recommend a treatment plan to help with your issues. This could include medications, physical therapy, orthotics or for surgery in severe cases. If you’re interested in seeing a podiatrist and finding out what they may be able to do to help you, book an appointment at our Camarillo or Santa Barbara office.