A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM), also known as a podiatric physician or surgeon. Podiatrists complete four years of training in a podiatric medical school, followed by three years of hospital residency training similar to that of other doctors. Podiatrists are qualified to diagnose and treat conditions of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. The specific services offered include treatment of heel pain, flat feet, sports injuries, diabetic-related foot care, reconstructive foot, and ankle surgery, and providing customized orthotics. Frankly, when your feet are really hurting, there’s no substitute for the care they provide.
It’s no exaggeration to say that when your feet hurt, your entire body hurts, and during those times, it’s a good idea to seek out the services of a podiatrist, a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) who specializes in problems related to the feet, ankles and related areas of the legs.
When seeking a podiatrist, apply the same techniques used when looking for other healthcare providers.
First, ask for the advice of your primary care physician. Most have a circle of doctors they know and are connected with, and asking for their advice is an excellent way to start.
Beyond your doctor, ask around among family members, friends, and colleagues at work. There’s nothing like first-hand information when trying to find a health care provider that’s right for you.
Like other doctors, podiatrists have their areas of specialty, and before making a choice, it’s good to know what specific kind of treatment you need. Sports podiatry concentrates on sports-related injuries and implementing a plan of action to get you “back in the game.” Bio-mechanical podiatry specializes in knowing exactly which way the foot should move in everyday life. Surgical podiatrists focus on fixing foot problems through surgery, and they are usually the last resort. Whatever your foot problem, it’s crucial to choose a podiatrist who best fits the issues you are having.
You can also look for patient reviews on the internet, but you should be careful. Sometimes patients only leave reviews when they are dissatisfied with their treatment, which can skew the search results. So, use online reviews with caution. Additionally, websites like FootHealthFacts.org and the American Podiatric Medical Association can help you locate recommended podiatrists in your area.
Look for the letters FACFAS, which stand for Fellow, American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons. Those letters mean that a physician has completed years of rigorous foot and ankle training in podiatric medical school, a hospital-based residency program, and a board certification exam, making them uniquely qualified to take care of this part of your body.
Finally, at your first appointment, consider the physician’s style and bedside manner, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most doctors are happy to answer any questions, and if the doctor becomes upset with your questions, they’re probably not the physician for you.
Medicine works best when the physician educates their patients to make the right decisions. This helps reduce reoccurrences and allows for quicker recovery.
Finding the right podiatrist can be an involved process, and it’s important to find one who’s qualified and willing to answer your questions. Don’t settle for less. Find a podiatrist you can trust to give your feet the best possible care.