Podiatry is concerned with preventing, diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating foot and lower limb medical and surgical problems. Podiatrists treat problems caused by bone and joint abnormalities such as arthritis, soft-tissue and muscle pathologies, as well as neurological and cardiovascular illness. Podiatrists can also diagnose and treat any of the issues as mentioned above that affect the lower limb, such as skin and nail diseases, corns, calluses, and ingrown toenails. Podiatrists also detect and treat foot injuries and infections caused by sports or other activities.
What Exactly Do Podiatrists Do?
Podiatrists provide a wide range of medical services, depending on their speciality. These services, however, are limited to diagnosing and treating foot disorders or associated problems, such as foot injuries.
When diagnosing a problem, podiatrists may do a physical examination, gather a medical history, and examine x-rays or MRIs. After determining the issue, the podiatrist will recommend a course of therapy. This includes conducting operations, providing medications, setting fractures, recommending custom-made shoes, and scheduling physical therapy appointments for the patient.
Podiatrists are frequently contacted to treat high-risk patients, such as the elderly, who may be at risk of losing their feet or lower limbs due to amputation.
Orthopedist vs Podiatrist
If you have a foot ailment, you may be unsure whether you should see a podiatrist or an orthopedist. An orthopedist also treats any condition involving the bones, such as injuries or disease therapy. There are more parallels than differences between the two professions.
The length of schooling for the two professions is comparable. A podiatrist and an orthopedist must both finish four years of medical school. A podiatrist will be given the title DPM, but an orthopedist will be given the title MD. Following that, both professions will need to undergo a surgical residency.
It should be noted, however, that a podiatrist specialises in issues involving the feet and lower extremities. This might play a role in your decision. Orthopedists may opt to specialise in the foot, and these programmes typically last six months to a year. There is no board certification in orthopaedics for a foot speciality; the board certification is exclusively for general orthopaedics.
Regardless of the similarities and differences, your choice should be determined chiefly by which doctor you can put your faith in. As with every medical profession, there are decent podiatrists and those that excel. This is also true in orthopaedics. If you have reasons to prefer one over the other, you should take those into account while making your decision.
In some situations, your primary care physician may determine whether to send you to a podiatrist or an orthopedist. If this were the case, you would have to trust your doctor’s choice.