If you suffer an injury or develop a medical condition affecting the feet, ankles or lower legs, your physician may refer you to a podiatrist. These specialists are highly trained in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting those complex anatomical structures. With their skills and knowledge, they can help resolve the problem relatively quickly and even minimize complications. Here’s a look at the training they receive and many of the ways they help their patients each and every day.
Education and Training Requirements
To become a podiatrist, also known as a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, students must complete up to 12 years of education and training. Their first four to five years are spent completing pre-med classes to prepare them for medical school.
Then, they go on to complete four years of specialized training in an accredited podiatric medical school. Three additional years of hospital residency training follows the completion of their medical degree.
While in school, podiatrists can elect to focus on a number of specializations, including:
- Sports medicine
- Wound care
- Diabetic care
Completing several additional years of fellowship training allows podiatrists to specialize in these areas, elevating their knowledge and skills even further.
Once they have finished their initial training, podiatrists can become board-certified with additional courses and through clinical experience. They must also take and pass an exam to earn their board certification.
Conditions Diagnosed and Treated by Podiatrists
Once trained and board-certified, podiatrists provide their patients with specialized care for many different conditions, including:
When toenails grow in incorrectly and dig into the nailbed, prompt intervention is often needed to stop the pain and restore mobility. Without care, infection could even set in and cause complications. Thankfully, podiatrists can clip the nail back and even perform treatments that prevent the problem from returning in the future.
When the band of connective tissue along the bottom of the foot gets inflamed, it can be difficult to walk without pain. This condition, called plantar fasciitis, often requires treatment to resolve, which is available from podiatrists. Depending on the severity, they may recommend NSAID medication, exercises, and cortisone injections to relieve the pain and inflammation for good.
Stemming from a number of conditions and situations, nerve pain in the feet impedes mobility as it causes burning, numbness and pain. The causes range from high-impact exercises to complications caused by diabetes, necessitating a specialist’s help to figure it all out. Fortunately, podiatrists are skilled in determining the cause of the nerve pain and finding the optimal treatment for each patient’s needs.
When fractures affect the feet, ankles and lower legs, great care is needed to ensure the broken bones heal correctly. Otherwise, mobility could be impacted for life. Podiatrists have the knowledge needed to repair the break and monitor healing to ensure all goes well. They can even help patients prone to this kind of injury, such as athletes, avoid fractures using key preventive methods.
No matter the cause, podiatrists can diagnose and treat any condition or injury affecting the feet, ankles and lower legs.
When to Schedule a Podiatry Appointment
You can schedule a podiatry appointment anytime you need care for your feet, ankles or lower legs. At your visit, your podiatrist will assess your condition, discuss its cause and move forward in determining the best course of treatment.
At Sweeney Foot & Ankle Specialists, requesting a visit is as easy as filling out our online appointment request form. Alternatively, give our Woodlands clinic a call at 281-292-4944 or call 281-789-4956 to reach our team in Magnolia.