A podiatrist, also called a doctor of podiatric medicine, is a specialist who provides medical diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems, including, but not limited to sprains and fractures, bunions, heel pain/spurs, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails, warts, corns and calluses. A podiatrist also renders care of sprains, fractures, infections, and injuries of the foot, ankle and heel. In addition to obtaining a college degree, podiatrists have 4 years of medical school training, and then spend several years perfecting surgical skills in residency programs. Podiatrists are required to take state and national exams, as well as be licensed by the state in which they practice.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, there are more than 17,800 practicing podiatrists in the United States. Podiatrists are in demand more than ever today because of a rapidly aging population. In addition, according to the association, foot disorders are among the most widespread and neglected health problems affecting people in this country.
- Consult with the patient and other physicians on how to prevent foot problems.
- Diagnose and treat tumors, ulcers, fractures, skin and nail diseases, and deformities.
- Perform surgeries to correct or remedy such problems as bunions, clawtoes, fractures, hammertoes, infections, ruptured Achilles, and other ligaments and tendons.
- Prescribe therapies and perform diagnostic procedures such as ultrasound and lab tests.
- Prescribes or fits patients with inserts called orthotics that correct walking patterns.
- Treat conditions such as: bone disorders, bunions, corns, calluses, cysts, heel spurs, infections, ingrown nails, and plantar fasciitis.