Throughout our lives, our feet take quite the beating – so it’s no surprise that problems can result. Each foot’s 26 bones and 30 joints – along with over a hundred ligaments, tendons and muscles – create a complex system to support our body and keep us moving.
Whether it’s a troublesome corn, painful toenail or more severe joint pain, problems with our feet can have a severe impact on our quality of life.
We spoke to Dr. Tracy Andrews, registrar at the College of Podiatrists of Manitoba, about getting help from a podiatrist.
What is podiatry?
“You go in, you get your toenails cut, and then you leave – that's what most physicians think we do all day, and a lot of the public do as well,” says Dr. Andrews.
“We do a lot more than what people think,” she says. “We deal with lots of different issues in regard to feet.”
Podiatry concerns the treatment of everything from the ankle down, including:
- corns, callouses and warts
- diabetic foot management
- arthritic issues
- chronic foot pain
- custom foot orthotics
- sports injuries
- management of vascular and nerve conditions
- general foot care
- diagnostic ultrasounds
- minor surgeries
- nail bracing (Similar to braces on your teeth, nail braces help shape your toenails to prevent issues – an alternative to having toenails removed.)
If you have a foot concern, Dr. Andrews recommends calling your local podiatry office.
“Most front-end staff have an understanding of what is podiatry based or if it needs to be referred (to your general practitioner),” she says. “If it pertains to your feet, give us a call – chances are, we can help you with it.”
What should you look for in a podiatrist?
Podiatrists are Doctors of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). Podiatrists in Manitoba must be registered with the Manitoba Podiatry Association, which regulates the profession throughout the province. Podiatrists must have a Bachelor of Science degree and complete the MCAT (the entrance exam for medical students). Instead of medical school, they complete three to four years of education at an accredited College of Podiatry with at least one year of residency.
While practitioners in some disciplines have specific specializations, podiatrists tend to focus on the same areas, Dr. Andrews says.
“We basically all have the same training,” she says. When looking for a podiatrist, like other doctors and medical professionals, it all comes down to personality match.
You can find a list of podiatrists on the Manitoba Podiatry Association website. You don’t need a physician’s referral to see a podiatrist.
To check if you have coverage for podiatry, log in to your mybluecross® account.