Podiatrists are uniquely endowed with a collection of skills and approaches that we bring to solving foot problems. They are listed below.
Holistic and Regional Diagnostic Approach
Podiatrists are trained like medical doctors but with a regional emphasis on foot and ankle. The medical knowledge we have is extensive for anything related to feet, including all foot injuries, traumas, deformities, pathologies, and conditions including diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and neurological issues. In the diagnostic process, we consider the issues from a broad (I call it holistic) perspective and as a result, treatment options are definitive and extensive.
Many foot problems will respond well to surgical intervention. Bunions, hammertoes, masses, foot deformities of all kinds, ingrown toenails and arthritis are the main categories. Most surgical podiatrists are adamant that conservative options are exhausted before surgery is considered. If surgery is indicated, podiatrists order and read our own radiological studies including x-ray, MRI, CT, and ultrasound. Surgeries are generally done “in-office” under local anesthetic, at the convenience of the patient. These services are only partially covered by medical. There are fees that many extended medical companies will cover.
Much has been said on this website about custom foot orthotics. Suffice to say that orthotics are a mainstay of Podiatric care. Podiatrists invented the most recent approaches to casting and fabrication of custom foot orthotics. These devices can be miraculous and they can also cause harm. It is crucial to see a professional you can trust to pursue this option.
Many foot problems are caused in part or in whole by wearing the “wrong” shoes. Usually this is completely inadvertent on the patient’s part. You go to a shoe store and they say, “these shoes are good for …”. Then you buy them and they turn out to not be good for your problem. Shoes are a solution in certain situations – some are listed here – the heel height of the shoe matters for many people; the fit of the forefoot portion of the shoe in terms of depth, width and rigidity; the sole material can cause achilles tendon problems for some and solve it for others; summer footwear can be very damaging – some sandals can exacerbate (make worse) corns, metatarsal head pain, bunions, or cause plantar fasciitis. The list goes on. Podiatrists assess your footwear from a scientific and practical point of view.