How to choose an orthopedist or podiatrist if you have diabetes

Your orthopedist or podiatrist should have your physician’s name and phone number so they can contact your physician with any concerns or questions about your treatment.

The doctor will examine your feet paying attention to several areas:

  • Structural deformities
  • Skeletal
  • Vascular RFS -  Foot Exam
  • Skin
  • Nerve health

The doctor will determine if there are any structural abnormalities, such as hammertoes or bunions or bony prominences. They will also make sure you have a full range of motion in your feet and ankles.

They will examine the surface of your feet to see if the skin is in good shape, free of calluses and corns, cracks, dry skin, ulcers, abnormal pigmentation, infections – both fungal (e.g. Athlete’s Foot) or bacterial. They should also examine the areas between your toes and also check your nails for thickness, curvature, coloration and appropriate self care.

An examination to check for the loss of sensation in your feet is conducted with a tuning fork, Biothesiometeror a 10 gram monofilament. The doctor should also check your reflexes particularly at the Achilles tendon.

The doctor will check your feet and ankles for signs of vascular disease by inspecting skin color, looking for temperature differentials and various pulse points.

Video foot exam

If your exam is normal your doctor should provide you with some education about things to look for, as a person with diabetes. If your examination is abnormal your doctor will either treat the condition or refer you to another specialist, such as a vascular surgeon.


International Consensus on the Diabetic Foot, 2003. International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot (consultative section of the International Diabetes Federation)

University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio Texas-Department of Orthopedics-Division of Podiatry

Scott & White Clinic / Texas A&M University System Health Science Center-Department of Surgery, Division of Podiatry

American Diabetes Association: Clinical Practice Recommendations. Diabetes Care. 2004; 27[S1]:63-64.

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