: Why does Podiatry exist as a separate specialty? Are the feet really so different from the rest of the body?


Somehow podiatry came up ( I have no background in medicine) and I was wondering why in the world are feet doctors a specialty compared to a general surgeon or someone that might fix a broken arm or hand issues?

In: 172

Because there are a lot nerves, muscles, bone in that area that can be affected by a myriad of things. Sure a GP could probably take care of a basic issue with your feet, like gout they can give you meds. If you have a complicated or ongoing issue, a specialist has a more nuanced knowledge will be better for you to receive proper treatment. There was a bit of issue that confused my GP and it’s smarter to know what you don’t know, and send me to a specialist to work together with them. There’s a ton of specialist out there for nearly everything.

Podiatrist take care of surgical things but also treatment for nerve damage, injuries, hammetoes, bunions, diabetic issues, infections, arthritis, neuroma, heel pain/spurs, etc. Foot issues can go bad really fast and it’s your foot so do you wait to walk? You’re better off seeing someone whose sole job and expertise is to make sure that doesn’t happen to you or save you if it does.

other parts of the body have specialists too.

The surgeon that works on your heart, your stomach, your feet, your broken legs, your broken jaws, and then the doctors that fix you skin irritation, treat your flu, or help you with cancer, these are all different types of doctors with different specialist names

I’m confused as to why they aren’t medical doctors with a specialty. They are doctors of podiatry. 🤷🏼‍♂️

>The foot is a complex mechanical structure of the human body composed of 33 joints, 26 bones, and more than a hundred muscles, tendons, and ligaments that all work together to bear weight, allow for locomotion, and transmit force.

Add in the nerves that control all that and the various things people step on or in that are more hazardous than legos. Feet are complex and necessary with a variety of specialized functions and problems.

You’ll generally find a pretty developed allied health service for most things where there’s specialised practical skills and quite extensive aids / devices.

Other examples are diabetes educators (lots of troubleshooting around insulin and lots of equipment with monitors and different insulin pens), dietician (specialised knowledge and a lot of food specific assistance), occupational therapy (assistance devices like walkers and rails etc). Dental hygienist for less specialised practical tasks like deep cleaning teeth.

Podiatry fits both of these – footwear and orthotic insoles etc are quite specialised and need to be personalised to the individual, and there’s a heap of small operations or foot care that could be done by a doctor but don’t need to be (nail care, bunion treatment, ingrown nail removal etc).

There is also some nursing overlap in the area of high risk foot clinic – this mainly refers to ulcers and things, integrity problems that largely effect elderly people and people with diabetes – podiatrists are often involved as part of the wound care team in this case.

Feet are a real problem, more than a lot of other areas because they are very heavily used, and suffer problems earlier than other parts of the body when there are problems with blood flow or nerve damage (because its the furthest distance these systems have to cover).