17 May What is a Foot Care Specialist?
What Exactly Is a Foot Care Specialist?
Have you ever wondered exactly what a podiatrist is? Many people aren’t aware of the training or education that a foot care specialist has.
At Shuman Podiatry and Sports Medicine, we know that patient education is an important part of our work. Here is a brief primer on what makes a podiatrist the best-qualified foot care specialist.
What is a Foot Care Specialist?
A foot care specialist is a doctor who has in-depth knowledge and experience in the diagnosis or treatment of foot, ankle and leg problems.
Most foot care specialists are podiatrists. Also called a podiatric physician or foot and ankle surgeon, a podiatrist is a medical doctor with specialized training.
Why You Should Visit a Foot Care Specialist
That’s the medical definition, but what makes a podiatrist or foot care specialist different from a regular doctor who also treats feet?
1. Podiatrists Have Specialized Training
After graduating from college, podiatrists complete four additional years of training in podiatric medicine. This rigorous training results in the Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) degree that every podiatrist must have.
This focused training gives foot care specialists unique knowledge and understanding that makes them experts in specific types of medical care:
- Common foot conditions like a fungal nail and ingrown nail.
- Soft tissue injuries of the knee, foot or leg.
- Wound care for athletes and diabetics.
- Sports-related foot and ankle injuries.
- Peripheral arterial disease.
- Foot and ankle sprains and strains.
- Tendon problems such as tendonitis and Haglund’s deformity…
- Skin conditions that affect the feet including warts, corns, calluses, and excessively sweaty feet.
2. Podiatrists Can Perform Surgeries
Unlike doctors who specialize in other treatment areas, all foot care specialists must complete a surgical residency as part of their education. In most states, podiatrists can perform surgeries that include:
- Ankle reconstructive surgery.
- Toenail avulsions.
- Repair of ligaments such as the Achilles tendon.
- Bunion surgery.
- Removal of tumors.
3. Podiatrists Specialize in Diabetic Foot Care
People with diabetes have a range of foot-related concerns that require specialized care. They often need regular podiatric appointments to ensure that their feet are not developing dangerous ulcers. They can also experience peripheral neuropathy, a serious condition that can cause long-term damage.
If you have diabetes or another condition that includes neuropathic problems, you should regularly consult a foot care specialist.
4. Foot Care Specialists Have Their Own Membership Associations
Like other doctors, podiatrists are represented by their own membership associations. Membership requirements include a DPM degree from an accredited medical program, several years of experience and adherence to an ethical code of conduct.
The leading organization for foot care specialists in the U.S. is the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). Each state has its own affiliated association.
5. Feet Are Complicated and Need Special Understanding
Feet may seem simple to us. We use them every day and rely on them for walking, running, dancing, playing sports and generally enjoying life. We don’t think about them that often. But in reality, feet are much more complex than they appear.
In addition, many foot problems have symptoms that mimic each other. It’s not easy to tell what you have. A foot care specialist can give you the correct diagnosis and start you on the appropriate treatment regimen.
Shuman Podiatry Is Your Local Foot Care Specialist
If you live in Northern Virginia, it’s time to discover the quality care available at Shuman Podiatry and Sports Medicine. At our Loudoun County clinic, every member of your family can find quality foot care that includes:
- The latest diagnostic methods.
- The most innovative treatments.
- A welcoming and child-friendly atmosphere.
- Specialized care for athletes and people with diabetes.
Your feet do a lot for you. Keep them healthy with regular podiatric appointments. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with a foot care specialist today.