Podiatrists: Who They Are and What They Do
Podiatrist: What you need to know
The feet, being complex structures and being responsible for most of our daily activities, need to be taken care of frequently. Granted that each person walks for an average of 128,000 kilometers in their lifetime—enough distance to travel the world on foot thrice—it’s needless to say that from time to time, our feet and parts of our lower limbs require expert care.
Doctor of podiatric medicine or DPM, or simply podiatrist, is a doctor who has undergone a rigorous four years of training in postgraduate podiatry school after acquiring a bachelor’s undergraduate degree. She takes care of the feet, ankles, toes, and everything on the lower limb. She can perform surgery to injured joints or tendons or design orthotics to assist with the rehabilitation of an injured extremity. She can specialize in surgery, sports medicine, wound care, pediatrics, geriatrics, and diabetic care.
Foot and limb irregularities, such as ingrown toenails, corns and calluses, athlete’s foot, smelly feet, and sports injuries are just some that a podiatrist can treat. Having undergone many hours of training in a podiatry school and at residency thereafter, they can prescribe the right treatment and medicine, and perform essential surgeries.
A podiatrist is not a medical doctor who can confirm death or deal with the general condition of the body. They can be called doctors, but they only specialize with treating the foot and the lower limb. Nevertheless a podiatrist is one of the most well-compensated professions in the United States. Their salary ranges between $164,125 and $263,009 (according to Salary.com as of September 28, 2018) which depends on factors such as education, certifications, additional skills, and number of years of practice.
Even with a perfectly conditioned feet, podiatrists still advise people to consider having a single session with one of them. This way they can assess the current condition of one’s limbs and apply necessary treatment if irregularities are discovered. Even if they don’t see any, they can still perform some minor applications, such as removal of hard skin, nail cutting, or give advice on what type of shoes to wear.
Podiatrists might not be MDs, but because of the foot’s interrelation to the rest of the body, they are usually the ones to first diagnose certain conditions, such as heart diseases and diabetes. Other conditions that manifest through symptoms of the lower extremities, such as arthritis or kidney diseases, can also be detected.
As the nation becomes more active across all age groups, the need for foot doctors will increase. Our feet are vital for our mobility. So we must not underestimate their importance. And the same goes for the importance of podiatrists.
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Findatopdoc. 2008. “What Does a Podiatrist Do?” Nursing. Accessed October 3, 2018. https://www.findatopdoc.com/Nursing/About-the-Job/what-does-a-podiatrist-do
Health Direct. 2018. “What Is a Podiatrist?” Podiatrist. Last reviewed May. Accessed October 3, 2018. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/podiatrist
NHS. 2015. “Foot Problems and the Podiatrist.” Healthy Body. Last reviewed October 12. Accessed October 3, 2018. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/foot-problems-and-the-podiatrist/