Podiatry or foot and leg surgery is basically a specialization of medicine dedicated to the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and rehabilitation of diseases of the feet, lower extremity, and the upper limb. A Podiatrist can perform the following tasks: treating acute foot/ankle surgery and foot/ankle fractures; orthopedic treatments; foot disorders that affect the gait cycle; sports injuries; congenital deformities; and deformities of the bone in the foot. In addition, a Podiatrist may also work with patients recovering from bone fractures or traumatic amputation. Many practice private practices or offer their services through the use of clinics and emergency rooms.
Podiatrists must be licensed to practice in their respective states. They also need to have completed a Podiatrists Licensing Course.
Podiatrists diagnose foot/ankle deformities and diseases by examining x-rays, using digital imaging technology, and performing specialized laboratory tests. They look for evidence of joint deformity, abnormal bone structure, trauma to bones, and deformity of the bones due to aging. In order to help identify and treat disorders in the bones, nerves, muscles, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, tendinous elements, and bones of the toes and legs, a Podiatrist will do a physical exam, take radiographs, and perform arthroscopic and microscopic studies to determine the structure and function of bones and joints.
After determining the cause of foot/ankle fractures, a Podiatrist will work with the patient to determine the best course of treatment. Treatments include conservative management and reconstructive surgery if the fractured bone is large or if the bone is severely deformed, resulting in deformity of the bones and other structures.
If a fracture does not result in a deformation of the bones or other structures of the bone, the Podiatrist will perform diagnostic tests in order to determine the exact type of foot/ankle deformity that is present. He may perform X-rays to determine the exact location of the deformity or he may perform a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan in order to determine the specific structures affected. in the bone. In addition, he may perform x-ray tests and blood tests to evaluate the blood supply and the extent of bone deformity and related blood flow.
Once a diagnosis of foot/ankle deformity has been determined, a Podiatrist can make recommendations for the best course of treatment. These recommendations will depend on the severity of the deformity and the degree to which it impairs the ability of the patient to move about comfortably. If the foot/ankle deformity is more severe, conservative treatment will usually be prescribed. In addition, the treatment may involve physical therapy that includes walking on a rigid surface or on a soft surface. The treatment may also involve the use of braces.
For more severe deformities resulting in deformation of the bones and structures in the lower limb, the more invasive procedures may be necessary. A procedure called arthroscopic surgery can be performed that involves surgical incisions. This procedure involves the surgical manipulation of bone, joint, or ligament with a scope in order to treat deformities that are too severe to treat with conservative techniques. A bone graft or arthroplasty is an option for more complex deformities.
A bone graft can either be a single piece of bone that is surgically fused to fix an existing deformity or a graft of one or more bone from another part of the body to fill in a hole or opening in the bone, skin, or joint. There are many treatments available for a foot/ankle deformity, each of which may involve different types of surgeries and may require a period of healing time.
Bone grafting is usually performed at a local hospital and is fairly safe. It is usually less expensive than bone grafting done by a doctor at a larger medical center and generally requires only one visit to the Podiatrist’s office. The main drawback to this procedure is that sometimes when a patient has a foot/ankle deformity, some bones are not used for grafting as some parts of the bone may actually be too damaged for transplantation to be successful. This can cause scarring that may make the patient uncomfortable.
In most cases, the surgery involves taking a thin flap of skin or a small bone from a part of the body that has healthy tissue and grafting it to a part of the foot, ankle, or another part of the body where there may be an injury or deformity. If a bone graft fails, a second procedure may be performed where a graft of a larger bone is placed under the skin or other areas where there may be a defect or abnormality. Once the bone graft has healed, another implant of healthy tissue is inserted.
Although bone grafts are typically the fastest method for treating foot/ankle deformities, they can cause a certain amount of discomfort and pain. A podiatrist will often recommend wearing special shoes and using ice packs and crutches if the pain or discomfort is extreme. A foot/ankle deformity that causes pain is usually diagnosed during the initial consultation.