Podiatry is a special branch of medical science devoted primarily to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of conditions of the foot, lower leg, and ankle. It involves a thorough examination of the musculoskeletal system of the feet and ankles, which includes the structures of ligaments, bones, tendons, cartilage, muscles, skin, nerves, muscle tone, and blood flow. Podiatrists diagnose diseases by examining and observing the structures and function of the musculoskeletal system of the feet and ankles.
When a physician sees the results of a physical examination and performs x-rays or an MRI scan, he or she calls it a “diagnosis.” A podiatrist uses diagnostic techniques that help to determine the cause of the symptoms of a particular condition and corrects the underlying problem. A podiatrist treats many conditions of the feet and ankles, including bone and joint problems. He or she may also treat problems arising from diseases such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, kidney disease, Lupus, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. He or she will perform a thorough physical exam and order laboratory tests to confirm the diagnosis and determine the severity and cause of a condition.
Diagnostic procedures performed by a podiatrist include a physical examination, which involves measuring the dimensions and position of the body part being examined. The physical examination may also involve assessing the patient’s overall health and examining the patient’s reflexes and ability to respond to pain. Some conditions requiring treatment include fractures, sprains, arthritis, pinched nerve roots, spinal cord injuries, skin disorders, infections, bone disorders, bone spurs, tumors, varicose veins, skin irritation and infection, and foot or ankle deformities. Patients who suffer from a severe condition may require surgery and hospitalization, depending on the severity of the condition.
Diagnostic procedures performed by a podiatrist include x-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning, bone densitometry, arthrocentesis, or angiography, and nerve block. A CT scan or MRI scan will reveal structural abnormalities that may be difficult to detect without a physical examination, such as degenerative spinal stenosis and tumor growth. Bone densitometry helps to determine bone density in the body. Arthrocentesis is the removal of fluid from the armpit.
In the case of a tumor or abnormality, arthrocentesis or vein biopsy is used to remove abnormal growths from the body. Arthrocentesis allows the physician to examine the fluid for signs of tumors and abnormalities. A CT scan and an MRI scan can be helpful in detecting arterial wall calcification and fluid retention, which causes hardening of the arteries and heart disease. Nerve block can treat tumors that may be causing pain or numbness.
Nerve block can help to prevent nerve damage from diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, or spinal cord injury. A nerve blocker or steroid injection can help reduce the symptoms of diabetes or arthritis. During a nerve block, a local anesthetic may be injected into the affected area. If the nerve is irritated, the affected area may swell, which can cause pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, or burning sensations. Painkillers or numbing ointments are given to relieve the patient’s pain.
A podiatrist uses several methods to treat pain. He or she will apply cold, firm pressure to the affected joint or limb, either with a hand splint or the help of electric shocks. A numbing agent can also be used. to numb the affected area.
The most common types of medical conditions treated by a podiatrist involve fractures, sprains, disc injuries, tendonitis, and more. A podiatrist will also provide general orthopedic care for individuals who are not suffering from any specific medical conditions. Podiatrists are licensed health care providers. They are required to undergo certification every two years so they can practice legally in a state.