Is a Podiatrist Covered By Insurance?

Issues with your feet can include injuries such as a fractured toe, genetic problems such as hammertoe or bunions, or illnesses such as fungus or athlete’s foot. While some foot issues can be treated at home, others may require a visit to your family practitioner, while still others may require you to see a podiatrist. It’s important to know when your foot should be evaluated by a professional, as well as how much that visit will cost you.

What Is a Podiatrist?

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Podiatrists are medical professionals who specialize in problems that affect your feet, ankles, and lower legs. While podiatrists are doctors, they don’t go to the traditional medical school that other doctors attend. Podiatrists attend specific professional associations and schools and have a DPM for doctor of podiatric medicine (instead of an MD for medical doctor) after their names.

Most podiatrists have a bachelor’s degree in biology or other science before attending podiatry school for four years. Their training covers the muscles, nerves, and bones of the feet and lower leg to understand how they work together to help us move. They also study any injuries and illnesses that can affect our feet and lower legs, as well as how to diagnose and treat those issues. The training will also include how to fix the problems with surgery when needed. The United States has nine American Podiatric Medical Association-accredited podiatry schools.

After podiatry school, future podiatrists work in a hospital for three years as their residency. Here they put to work what they have learned under the tutelage and supervision of doctors, surgeons, and other specialists. After their residency, they can further their studies with advanced certifications on ankles and feet.

What Types of Foot Issues Do Podiatrists Treat?

A podiatrist is a specialist in foot, ankle, and lower leg issues and they can treat a plethora of foot-related conditions, including:

  • Sprains and fractures. These are prevalent injuries that often occur in sports activities. A podiatrist can work with you to not only treat the injury but also recommend ways to avoid them in the future.
  • Hammertoes and bunions. Each of these is related to issues with how the bones of your feet grow. A hammertoe is a toe that doesn’t bend the way it should, while bunions occur when the base of your toe gets knocked out of place or grows larger than usual.
  • Nail disorders. Ingrown toenail and toenail fungus are two common nail disorders treated by podiatrists.
  • Arthritis. When the joints of the foot and ankle experience swelling, inflammation, and wear and tear, a podiatrist can work with you to recommend therapies, medications, or special inserts or shoes to ease the pain from arthritis. Surgery is also an option if other treatments don’t work.
  • Foot shape. As your child’s feet grow, you may notice that they appear to have flat feet or toes that don’t line up correctly. These issues can be corrected with braces, insoles, exercises, and sometimes surgery.
  • Heel pain. Plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, overpronation, and Achilles tendonitis are common heel pain issues requiring a podiatrist’s visit.
  • Morton’s neuroma. Morton’s neuroma usually affects runners and is a nerve problem between your foot’s third and fourth bones. This causes a burning sensation, along with pain and a feeling like there’s something in your shoe.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes can damage the nerves in your legs and feet, preventing enough blood flow to the extremity. Prevention is critical for diabetes, and any sore or callus on your foot should be monitored to avoid a future amputation of the foot.

When Should You See a Podiatrist?

If you’re experiencing extreme or long-lasting foot, ankle, or lower leg pain, it might be time to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist, such as Dr. Schoene of Gurnee Podiatry and Sports Medicine Associates. Symptoms to look for include:

  • Foot pain.
  • Discolored or thicker toenails.
  • Cuts or cracks in your skin.
  • Warts, calluses, or other changes in your skin.
  • Peeling or scaling soles.

A podiatrist will start with a complete health history and medical exam. They may ask you to walk and stand so that they can evaluate your range of motion and how you use your feet, ankles, and legs. A podiatrist may also check how your shoe fits you to rule out an ill-fitting shoe as the culprit for any foot pain.

What Types of Treatment Do Podiatrists Provide?

A podiatrist will recommend treatment after your initial consultation. Treatment options will vary based on the type of foot problem you are experiencing and the severity. Your podiatrist may offer in-home treatment options, treat your issue in their office, or schedule you for surgery if needed. Treatment options include:

  • Orthotics
  • Padding
  • Physical therapy
  • Pain medication

Your podiatrist may also use a scalpel to remove a wart or callus, a nail anvil or splitters to remove an ingrown toenail, or liquid nitrogen to freeze off plantar warts.

How Much Does a Podiatrist Cost?

There’s no one answer to this question, as the cost of your visit will be determined by the foot problem you are experiencing as well as the treatment option that works best for you. Costs will also vary depending on your location and the professional history of the podiatrist. The average price of a visit to a podiatrist is between $60 and $400. You can expect that to be much higher if your condition requires surgery. The average cost of a hammertoe correction surgery is between $2,500 and $9,300.

Is a Podiatrist Covered By Insurance?

Again, there’s no one answer to this question, as insurance companies vary in coverage, but most insurance companies do cover a visit to the podiatrist. Your out-of-pocket expenses will depend on your coverage and whether you have a deductible, coinsurance, or copay. You will also want to be aware of in-network and out-of-network providers before booking your initial consultation. Gurnee Podiatry and Sports Medicine Associates provides a listing of accepted insurance providers for potential patients to check out online.

If you have additional questions about your specific insurance coverage, you can reach out to your insurance company. Many insurance companies now offer a quick search for coverage online or via app to allow you to check your coverage on your own prior to making any appointments. The Gurnee Podiatry and Sports Medicine Associates team would also be happy to answer any questions you may have on insurance coverage, fees, and treatment options.