Foot Health

Your feet matter

International Podiatry Day (IPD) is held every year to increase awareness of the importance of foot health and podiatry with the general public, other health professions and government health officials. IPD focuses on the impact and consequences of foot and ankle ailments and the contributions of podiatrist to promote foot health and treat foot diseases. It’s held every year on October 8.

The International Federation of Podiatrists was founded in 1947 to advance the field of podiatry around the world. The federation enhances the podiatric profession by sharing knowledge and research among its members. Individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations worldwide take part in this global event to create awareness. There is a shortage of podiatrists in The Bahamas at a time when their services are in great demand because of an aging population; increasing obesity; and chronic diseases like diabetes, arthritis, etc.

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 diseases like diabetes. You may hear them called a podiatric (pronounced po-di-a-tric) physician or doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) behind their name instead of MD. Podiatrists are doctors that don’t go to a traditional medical school. Just like dentists, they attend their own special medical schools, also for four years, complete residency training in hospitals and have professional associations and specialties. Podiatrists can do surgery, reset broken bones, prescribe drugs, and order lab tests or x-rays. They often work closely with other doctors when a health 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 podiatric medical school. Most get a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry or another science field. 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. 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 into practice. They also work with many doctors in other fields including surgeons, family medicine, anesthesiologists, vascular doctors, orthopedists, and specialists in infectious diseases, etc. After the residency, they can go on to get advanced certifications in surgery on feet and ankles, diabetes, paediatrics, gerontology, wound care, etc.


Conditions podiatrists treat

Podiatrists treat people of any age for any foot, ankle or lower leg conditions, including:

• Fractures and sprains.

• Bunions, hammertoes and other deformities.

• Nail disorders such as ingrown toenails, fungus, etc.

• Diabetes, arthritis and other systemic conditions.

• Foot pain such as growing pains, heel pain, Morton’s neuroma.

• Wounds and much more.


Reasons to see a podiatrist

Your feet do a lot of work and have endured a lot of wear and tear over the years. By the time you’re 50, you 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 and pain free.

See 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 on peeling on your soles, foot deformity or any other foot complaints.


What to expect at the 

podiatrist’s office

Your first visit to a podiatrist will be a lot like seeing any other doctor. They’ll ask questions about your medical history, medications, allergies, habits or any surgeries you have had. Your feet and lower leg will be examined and evaluated. Additional tests like labs or imaging like x-rays may be ordered. The podiatrist will determine what is wrong with your feet and treat it. This may involve medications, therapy, injections, surgery, shoes or support like orthotics or even a referral to another specialist. The major differences at a podiatrist visit are the biomechanical exam, gait analysis and evaluation of your footwear where the podiatrist looks for deformities in the way your foot functions. The way you walk and footwear can be contributing to your foot or other complaints.

The feet are highly complex structures which can develop many 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 work closely 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 on the public’s health. In fact, 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 admissions to hospital, decreasing hospital stay and amputations. Seeing a podiatrist saves limbs, lives and money.

 
• For more information on foot conditions, visit www.apma.org, healthcentral.com, or email us at foothealth242@gmail.com. To see a podiatrist, visit Bahamas Foot Centre, Rosetta Street, or telephone 325-2996 for an appointment at Bahamas Surgical Associates Centre, Hilltop Medical, or call 394-5820 for an appointment. You can also visit Lucayan Medical Centre in Freeport, Grand Bahama, or telephone 373-7400 for an appointment.

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