Currently in medical care in the United States, there are four main primary care specialties: family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and geriatrics. Internal medicine is primary care for adults, pediatrics is primary care for children and infants, and geriatrics is primary care for seniors. Family medicine, the broadest specialty, is primary care for all ages.
A family medicine physician is a medical ‘home base’ for patients. They treat all ages, all sexes, all organs, and all diseases. They can see every member of the family, from birth through old age. This allows family medicine doctors to develop long-term relationships with their patients and to understand how their patients’ role in the family affects their health. They can provide check-ups, immunizations, screening services, gynecological exams and obstetric care, routine health care, and health counseling. When more specialized care is needed, a family medicine doctor can refer their patients to appropriate specialists. They can become educators and advocates for their patients in the sometimes overwhelming health care system.
As health care changes in this country, family medicine is a growing specialty for families and individuals who are seeking more personalized health care and a more personal relationship with their physician.
What is Vascular Surgery?
Vascular surgeons provide both medical and surgical care for the blood vessels of the body. This includes arteries, veins, capillaries, and lymph vessels, but not usually the heart or large vessels immediately surrounding the heart -- those are cared for by cardiologists or cardiothoracic surgeons.
Some of the blood vessel disorders that might require treatment by a vascular surgeon include:
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries
Venous thrombosis, or clots in the veins
Peripheral arterial disease, where narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the legs
Carotid artery stenosis, or narrowing of the arteries leading to the brain
Vascular surgery is an unusual surgical specialty because it offers medical care, testing, and non-invasive procedures, as well as complete surgical care. So depending on the diagnosis, a vascular surgeon may offer care or treatment that is non-invasive (such as imaging, diet, or exercise), minimally invasive (such as catheter procedures), or traditional surgery.
When vascular disease disrupts oxygen and nutrients from being delivered efficiently within the body, a vascular surgeon can help restore the flow of health.
What is Podiatry?
Podiatry is the medical specialty that deals with injuries and diseases of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. Caring for feet may seem simple at first glance, but podiatry combines elements of sports medicine, wound care, diabetic care, and pediatrics into one specialty.
Podiatrists examine and treat many minor conditions in their office. They may perform surgery at a hospital, and they may refer patients to other professionals for physical therapy or orthotics if needed.
Some of the conditions commonly seen by podiatrists include:
Sprains and fractures
Heel pain and heel spurs
Ingrown or infected toenails
Corns and calluses
Structural issues of the foot
Pain in the feet and ankles is often neglected or seen as a normal part of daily life by patients, but keeping your feet healthy is a great way to maintain your mobility into old age. A podiatrist can help you keep moving comfortably.
What is Foot & Ankle Surgery?
Foot and ankle surgery is the specialty offering medical and surgical care for the foot and ankle. The feet and ankles are some of the most frequently injured parts of the body, but foot and ankle surgeons also treat damage due to illness, major trauma, or structural disorders.
Foot and ankle surgeons begin their career by either studying podiatry or orthopedics. Podiatrists study and care for the feet and ankles, while orthopedists study how bones, muscles, and tendons work and help us move. After their initial training, foot and ankle surgeons go on to do a surgical residency for three years, studying specifically how to care for feet and ankles with surgery.
A foot and ankle surgeon may treat conditions including:
Trauma, such as due to a car accident
Surgical management of joints damaged by arthritis
Polydactyly (extra toes)
Tumors of the foot
The care offered by foot and ankle surgeons does not always involve surgery. Depending on the diagnosis, they may recommend non-invasive medical treatments such as rest, ice / heat, casting, bracing, or physical therapy.
Geriatrics is the subspecialty of internal medicine that provides primary care to older adults. Physical health tends to decline with age, and geriatricians work to manage such age-related concerns as chronic illness, frailty, multiple medications, and declining mental health to keep seniors as active and independent as possible.
Some of the most common concerns seen by a geriatrician include:
Mobility issues, including the need for canes and walkers, as well as preventing falls
Osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones, which affects as many as a quarter of all men and half of all women over fifty
Loss of hearing or vision
Incontinence, or the inability to control one’s bladder
Memory loss, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
A geriatrician may also provide their patients with comprehensive care that includes checking on their social health. Seniors are at increased risk for poverty, loneliness, abuse, and injuries in the home. As part of their health care, a geriatrician may inquire about family support, living conditions, or the ability of a patient to perform daily self-care tasks.
In some cases, a geriatrician may serve as an advisor to other physicians on a specific case or condition. However, most of the time geriatrics is a primary care specialty, and geriatricians provide routine health care to the older patients they work with.
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