Did you know there are 28 bones in your foot and ankle? That’s a full quarter of all your bones in your feet! Not to mention there are dozens of joints and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. All of this is to say that when you have pain, you need a foot and ankle specialist, known as a Podiatrist.
Podiatrists are physicians, but instead of seeing the initials “MD” after the doctor’s name, you will see the initials DPM. This stands for Doctor of Podiatric Medicine – an important area of specialty focused on feet and ankles. What’s the difference between an MD and a DPM?
A medical doctor attends a general medical school where they might be trained to diagnose or treat various medical problems. Then they specialize during their residency and fellowship. Whereas podiatrists are specifically trained in comprehensive medical and surgical treatment of only the foot and ankle starting in medical school and throughout their residency and fellowship.
It goes without saying that keeping your feet and ankles healthy and pain-free is essential for everyday activities, and as complex as those joints are, it’s essential to find a podiatrist that really knows their stuff. Here are three things you should look for before you make an appointment with a podiatrist.
1) Select a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). Why?
Because only DPMs invest years of training to understand the complexities of the foot and ankle. This includes soft tissue, bones, and how the foot and ankle function, along with how podiatric health relates to the rest of the body.
A DPM must complete specific medical school training, clinical rotations, and a residency in medicine and surgery – all focused on the foot and ankle. To put this in context, other orthopedic doctors may only spend a few weeks focusing on the foot and ankle as part of their overall training.
Once DPMs go into practice, they also must complete ongoing continuing education to maintain board certification and stay informed on evolving treatment protocols and technical advances.
Why does all this matter? Because your podiatrist is uniquely qualified to evaluate, diagnose and treat your foot and ankle problems most comprehensively and effectively as possible. This means you can be confident that you have all the options available when it comes to feeling better.
2) Make sure they have extensive hands-on experience with all types of treatment.
This is important for the treatment of all surgical and non-surgical problems of the foot and ankle. Clinical experience is essential, and an experienced podiatrist will have diagnosed and treated many ailments of both the forefoot and rear foot. They know when to recommend a conservative treatment and how to help you navigate a more complex solution such as surgery. And hands-on clinicians will also tend to have better patient rapport, which makes for a better whole experience for you.
3) Look for leaders in the specialty.
Podiatrists who are actively involved in their professional community often train other podiatrists, sit on the board for certifications, and even give the oral exams that are required of practicing DPMs. This means they are at the top of their profession and other doctors look to them for the expertise and best practices. If your podiatrist is a Fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, you will see FACFAS next to their name. These highly-trained fellows have continued their foot and ankle surgical education beyond their residency to advance their expertise.
Advanced Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Specialists is proud to have two doctors of podiatric medicine who are at the top of the foot and ankle specialty. They treat Achilles tendon injuries, broken ankles, plantar fasciitis, bunions, total ankle reconstruction, and many other foot and ankle problems.
Dr. Alan Ng, DPM, FACFAS specializes in foot and ankle reconstructive surgery and trauma. He is heavily involved in the world of podiatric medicine, serving as a past president of the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, and has been chair of the Oral Foot examination for Board Certification in foot surgery since 2009.
Dr. Keith Jacobson, DPM, FACFAS is a regional expert in foot surgery and reconstructive rear foot and ankle surgery; he specializes in foot and ankle trauma and reconstruction in both adults and pediatrics. Additionally, Dr. Jacobson is a past president and member of the Board of Directors for the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and a Chair for the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery Computer-based Patient Simulation Committee.