Podiatry, Foot & Ankle Surgery FAQs

Today’s podi­a­trists are spe­cial­ists, med­ical­ly and sur­gi­cal­ly trained to treat the foot and ankle. From sports injuries and dia­betes com­pli­ca­tions to pedi­atric defor­mi­ties and heel pain, podi­a­trists are able to tack­le all of your foot care needs. Licensed in all 50 states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico, there are approx­i­mate­ly 15,000 podi­a­trists prac­tic­ing in the Unit­ed States. Here are answers to fre­quent­ly asked ques­tions (FAQs) about today’s podiatrists.

Q. What is the dif­fer­ence between a podi­a­trist, podi­atric physi­cian, and podi­atric surgeon?

A. Podi­a­trists, podi­atric physi­cians, and podi­atric sur­geons are all terms used to describe doc­tors of podi­atric med­i­cine (DPMs). All are unique­ly qual­i­fied among med­ical pro­fes­sion­als to treat the foot and ankle based on their edu­ca­tion, train­ing, and expe­ri­ence. The amount and type of sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures per­formed by podi­a­trists may vary based on each indi­vid­u­al’s train­ing and expe­ri­ence and per­son­al choice with­in their practice.

Q. What type of med­ical edu­ca­tion do DPMs receive?

A. DPMs receive med­ical edu­ca­tion and train­ing com­pa­ra­ble to med­ical doc­tors or doc­tors of osteo­path­ic med­i­cine, includ­ing four years of under­grad­u­ate edu­ca­tion, four years of grad­u­ate edu­ca­tion at one of nine podi­atric med­ical col­leges, and two or three years of hos­pi­tal-based post-grad­u­ate res­i­den­cy training. 

Q. Are podi­a­trists restrict­ed to treat­ing the foot and ankle only?

A. Although a podi­a­trist’s scope of prac­tice can vary from state to state, in Illi­nois podi­a­trists are able to treat the foot, ankle and 10 cen­time­ters above the ankle joint also know as the tib­ial talar articulation.

Q. Do podi­a­trists encounter patients with seri­ous illnesses?

A. On a dai­ly basis, podi­a­trists treat foot and ankle con­di­tions of patients with chron­ic ill­ness­es such as dia­betes, arthri­tis, obe­si­ty, heart dis­ease, and periph­er­al arte­r­i­al dis­ease. These ill­ness­es can lead to seri­ous foot and ankle prob­lems. With prop­er treat­ment from a podi­a­trist, more seri­ous com­pli­ca­tions may be avoided.

Q. Do podi­a­trists have areas of spe­cial­ty in which they focus?

A. With­in the field of podi­atric med­i­cine and surgery, podi­a­trists can focus on spe­cial­ty areas such as surgery, ortho­pe­dics, sports med­i­cine, bio-mechan­ics pedi­atrics, and pri­ma­ry care.

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