Foot problems can have a dramatic effect on our mobility and quality of life, so it’s important to know who to turn to when you need help. Look for health professionals with the letters “DPM” after their name; they have completed years of schooling and hospital-based residency training that make them uniquely qualified to care for the foot, ankle, and related body parts.
During their schooling, podiatrists alignhc.com.au learn about all the conditions that affect the feet, as well as how to treat them surgically. They also spend three or more years in a hospital residency, working alongside other physicians and surgeons to hone their skills. Some podiatrists even go on to earn advanced certifications and fellowships.
When you see a podiatrist, he or she will first examine your feet and ankles to get a clear picture of the state of your health. He or she will ask you about your current medications and medical history. They may also perform diagnostic procedures like x-rays and lab tests, prescribe or fit you with inserts for your shoes (called orthotics) to correct improper walking patterns, and give you advice on how to prevent future problems.
The most common ailments treated by podiatrists include bunions, ingrown toenails, heel and lower back pain, and hammertoes (problems with the bones in the feet that create a bony lump on one or more toes). They also manage chronic conditions such as diabetic foot complications, which can lead to serious ulceration and limb loss if not managed correctly.
Another big part of their job is wound care. They can treat acute and chronic wounds including ulcers from diabetes, pressure, vascular compromise, infection, and trauma. They often use specialized wound care products to speed up healing and ensure proper moisture balance in the dressing.
Some podiatrists also manage toenail conditions like fungal infections and ingrown toenails. They may also help with other health issues, such as arthritis, that manifest in the feet and ankles.
Having healthy feet is an essential part of overall health, but many people don’t take their foot health seriously and wait until there is a problem before seeking help. This can be dangerous, because foot problems can indicate underlying health issues and lead to severe pain or disability.
The best way to prevent foot problems is by recognizing early symptoms and seeking prompt treatment when necessary. For more information about finding a podiatrist in your area, visit the healthdirect service finder or talk to your doctor. In some cases, your Medicare plan covers visits to a podiatrist under your Chronic Disease Management Plan. The cost of these visits varies between practices and for different treatments. The Australian Podiatry Association provides a helpful website to assist you in your search. It is also helpful to be aware that not all podiatrists accept Medicare, so you should always verify their credentials before making an appointment. You may want to consider asking your general practitioner for a referral.