In simple words, podiatrist is a foot doctor. He diagnoses and treats foot disorders and problems of the lower limb.
Podiatrist is a professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating foot disorders. Most people incorrectly assume that a podiatrist only deals with ingrown toenails. Although, this is one aspect of the job profile of a podiatrist, there is certainly more to it. These are highly accomplished individuals who can recommend corrective treatments for foot problems and also perform surgeries. Elderly and sports people often benefit the most from the services of a podiatrist.
What Does a Podiatrist Do?
Human foot is a complex structure with 26 bones and several muscles, tendons and ligaments. Your foot bears your entire weight from the moment you start walking. Over the time, the muscles and bones of the lower limb weaken, which leads to many injuries and disorders. Elderly people, pregnant women, athletes are most likely to suffer from foot injuries. Sometimes, certain congenital defects such as clubfoot may hinder the mobility of a person. In all the above circumstances, a podiatrist is the only person who can help you. Besides, you often cover your foot in a shoe, where it stays in dark, moist environment for hours. As a result, your foot is very susceptible to catch various types of infections. Fungal infections are the most common type of infection that plagues people wearing shoes for a long time or those following improper hygiene measures. A podiatrist can diagnose and treat all types of foot infections.
Job profile of a podiatrist involves diagnosis and treatment of all types of defects, disorders and diseases mentioned above. When you approach your doctor with a foot problem, he is most likely to refer you to a podiatrist for detail analysis and treatment. During your first session with a podiatrist, he will hear you out. Then depending upon the possible problem, he may perform a comprehensive biomechanical test. This includes thorough assessment of your foot and gait analysis. Gait analysis is a study of your walking posture. This is very important to address issues related to foot injuries in athletes. Oftentimes, incorrect gait, wearing wrong shoes for long are some possible causes of foot injuries and disorders.
A podiatrist, after diagnosing the cause behind your condition recommends certain treatment options. These include making orthotics (such as insoles) or suggesting physiotherapy exercises. People with abnormal foot structure such as high arches or flat feet benefit a great deal from wearing orthotics. A podiatrist makes custom orthotics for you and improves them to give you the best fit. Congenital defects such as clubfeet have to be corrected with a surgery only. Infections can be treated with medications and cleaning. A podiatrist also treats people with diabetes mellitus who lose the sensation in their feet and thus, often get themselves injured without realizing it. Apart from that, he also treats bunion, warts, callus, corns, blisters, heel spurs etc. He may also treat other problems in thigh, back, hip area which originate from a foot disorder.
Podiatrist Salary Range
Podiatrists are essentially doctors specializing in foot problems. To become a podiatrist, one has to complete a four-year course in medicine and then 2-3 years of postgraduate diploma in podiatry. Candidates are also expected to gain a clinical experience through a residence program. The educational requirements differ in each country and the job profile also varies in that respect. In countries where podiatrist education comprises an undergraduate degree, there are certain limitations on the procedures he can perform. US demands the most extensive educational requirements and hence, offers maximum opportunities. The podiatrist salary range in the US is $115,000 – $180,000. However, the income of a podiatrist is influenced by the settings in which he works and the state of residence.
Thus, a podiatrist occupation is a demanding one with a detailed assessment and treatment of myriad foot problems.