Until they need to visit a doctor that specializes in feet and ankle problems, most patients don’t know much about what a podiatrist or a foot doctor is, or what they do. These FAQs can help clear up some of the common questions many people have about foot doctors.
What types of foot doctors are there?
There are several types, including podiatric surgeons, podiatrists, and podiatric physicians. Each of these doctors has completed their education to become a doctor of podiatric medicine; patients will note that they may list “DPM” after their name to indicate this. There is no difference in the basic education these different types of foot doctors receive; instead, the differing names indicate their preference for the type of care they provide.
What is the medical education of a foot doctor like?
Just like medical doctors, DPMs complete a four year undergraduate degree as well as four years of graduate schooling. Their graduate schooling is completed at special medical colleges which specialize in podiatry. Once they have completed their formal education, they then spend a number of years doing post-graduate training work on the job in hospital residence programs.
Can podiatrists treat other ailments elsewhere in the body?
It depends on the state or region in which the podiatrist is practicing. Some states only allow DPMs to treat the foot; others allow the foot and ankle, while still others allow for podiatrists to conduct treatments above the ankle as well.
Do podiatrists help patients that have severe illnesses?
Yes, in fact, many of the patients that podiatrists see are suffering from serious chronic illnesses. These illnesses may directly affect the health of the foot, or they may cause complications which affect the health of the patient’s feet. Diabetes, for example, is linked to peripheral neuropathy, which can sometimes lead to amputation of the foot if not handled correctly.
What kind of podiatric specialties are there?
Just as with other fields of medicine, podiatrists can choose a number of different specialties. Some of the specialties which podiatrists may choose to pursue include geriatric podiatry, pediatric podiatry, primary care, surgical podiatry, and sports medicine.
Does insurance cover podiatrist visits?
Most health insurance plans do cover visits to podiatrists. They are legitimate medical personnel, and respected physicians and surgeons. As always, though, the patient needs to determine whether their chosen treatment will be covered, and of course, whether their chosen foot doctor accepts private or public health insurance. Not all podiatrists do accept health insurance, or they may require that the patient file their health insurance on their own behalf. This has, however, become increasingly uncommon as many patients rely upon health insurance for their medical bills. As a result, most podiatrists now accept health insurance in order to accommodate the needs of their patients.
What do podiatrists treat?
While their specialties vary, a foot doctor in general treats any injuries, disorders, or illnesses in terms of how they affect the feet. They treat warts and bunions, joint pain, and many other conditions.