Your feet matter
International Podiatry Day (IPD) is held each year to draw attention to foot health and podiatry. IPD, which is recognized every year on October 8, focuses on the impact and the dangers of foot and ankle ailments and the contributions of podiatrists to promote foot health and treat foot diseases.
Podiatrists are medical specialists who are concerned with the research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of deformities, pathologies and injuries of the foot, lower leg and associated structures. They help treat problems that affect your feet or lower legs. They can treat injuries as well as complications from ongoing systemic health issues like diabetes. You might hear them called a podiatric physician or doctor of podiatric medicine. Podiatrists are doctors, but they don’t go to traditional medical school. They have their own schools and professional associations. They also have DPM (doctor of podiatric medicine) after their names instead of MD (medical doctor). Podiatrists can do surgery, reset broken bones, prescribe drugs, and order lab tests or x-rays. They often work closely with other specialists when a problem affects your feet or lower legs. In The Bahamas, podiatrists are licensed and regulated by the Health Professions Council.
Education and training
In college, students who want to be podiatrists take biology, chemistry, and physics along with other science classes to get ready for podiatry school. Most get a Bachelor’s degree in biology or a similar field of science. Then they go to podiatry school for four years. They study how bones, nerves, and muscles work together to help you move. They also study the illnesses and injuries that can affect your feet. That includes how to diagnose and treat them and how to fix the feet with surgery if needed. There are nine podiatry schools in the United States (U.S) accredited by the American Podiatric Medical Association. Once students graduate from podiatry school, they work in a hospital for three years – this is called a residency, and they put what they’ve learned to use. They also work with doctors in other fields, including surgeons, family medicine, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, and specialists in infectious diseases. After the residency, they can get advanced certifications in surgery on feet and ankles, diabetes, pediatrics, gerontology, etc.
Conditions podiatrists treat
Podiatrists treat people of any age for many foot-related conditions, including fractures and sprains, bunions and hammertoes and other deformities. Nail disorders such as ingrown toenails, fungus, etc., diabetes, arthritis and other systemic conditions, growing pains, heel pain, Morton’s neuroma, wounds and more.
Your feet do a lot of work. By the time you’re 50, you’ll have walked 75,000 miles on them. Feet are complex structures with many bones, tendons, and ligaments that have to work together perfectly to keep you moving.
Call the podiatrist when you have foot pain, flat foot or high arches, thick or discolored toenails, cracks or cuts in your skin, growths like warts, scaling or peeling on your soles or any other foot complaints.
What to expect at the podiatrist
Your first visit to a podiatrist will be a lot like any other doctor. They’ll ask questions about your medical history, medications you’re on, or any surgeries you’ve had.
The feet are highly complex structures, which can develop problems affecting a patient’s overall health and well-being. Podiatry can significantly improve people’s quality of life by promoting, maintaining and improving mobility. Moreover, podiatrists are working with at-risk patients like diabetics in multi and interdisciplinary teams in hospitals and communities. They have specific knowledge and skills that have direct positive effects to public health. Many research studies in the area of the diabetic foot have proven that seeing well-trained podiatrists have a positive impact on the well-being of the patients, preventing amputations, admissions to hospital, and decreasing hospital stay. Podiatrists are also very cost-effective for government budgets. Podiatrists save limbs, lives and money.
• For more information email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or to see a podiatrist visit Bahamas Foot Centre, Rosetta Street, telephone 325-2996 or Bahamas Surgical Associates Centre, Hilltop Medical Centre, East Terrace Centreville or telephone 394-5820; or Lucayan Medical Centre, East Sunrise Highway, Freeport, Grand Bahama, every first and third Thursdays, telephone 373-7400.