Treat Feet – Diagnosing Issues as a Podiatrist

Learn all about podiatry here.

Podiatric physicians, or podiatrists, treat feet and illnesses related to the lower legs. This includes, but is not limited to, performing surgery and writing prescriptions.

Despite being able to conduct said procedures without supervision, however, podiatrists are technically not doctors. Nor are they nurses.

Why Podiatrists Have DPM Instead of MD

Family physicians and many other healthcare occupations typically graduate from college and enter into a standard 4-year medical school. The same cannot be said for those entering into the world of podiatrics.

Medical students pursuing a career in podiatrics enter into a specialized school after college. Due to this streamlined education track, podiatrists earn the suffix DPM, or Department of Podiatric Medicine.

There are currently only 9 podiatry schools that are accredited by the American Podiatric Medical Association.

Life After DPM Certification

Once medical students earn their podiatric certifications, they can begin seeing new patients. This can be done at a local clinic, hospital, or even sport arenas.

During these visits, patients of all ages will call on the podiatrist to diagnose and treat the following:

  • Fractures, sprains, broken bones - common ankle and foot injuries that need to be x-rayed, reset, bandaged, and more
  • Bunions - joint in big toe gets larger or dislocated causing the appendage to be malformed, often resulting in the toe bending towards the others
  • Hammertoes - toes that no longer bend the right way
  • Nail Disorders - infections caused by ingrown toenails, fungus, or otherwise
  • Diabetes - help decrease the odds a patient has to have their foot amputated due to the illness
  • Arthritis - provides recommendations on alleviating foot and ankle pain due to inflammation, including but not limited to surgery
  • Foot Deformities - typically seen in children when feet curl inward or outward making walking difficult

Depending on the reason for the visit, podiatrists may diagnose and treat a patient shortly after meeting them. Examples include resetting broken bones and addressing ingrown toenails.

That said, more complex issues often require repeat appointments. If this is the case, patients may be required to navigate around the doctor’s office if possible. Doing so ensures the podiatrist is able to properly evaluate a patient’s:

  • Gait
  • Stance
  • Stride
  • Range of motion
  • Shoe hindrance

Those unable to migrate around without pain may only be required to move appendages as far as they are comfortable with. As a podiatrist, it is your job to evaluate possible pain points during diagnosis and the best course of action to take from there. This may include additional tests, therapy, medicine, or even surgery.

Medical students entering the field of pediatrics may be able to earn upwards of $120,000. Of course those entering into the world of sports medicine could earn much more if they’re lucky.