A podiatrist, or a doctor of podiatric medicine, is a professional who provides medical diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle conditions. Some of the most common conditions a podiatrist treats are calluses, bunions, ingrown toenails, heel pain, spurs, hammertoes, warts, corns, and neuromas. Podiatrists can also treat more serious conditions such as fractures, sprains, infections, and injuries of the foot and ankle. After attending undergraduate medical school, podiatrists must obtain a doctorate degree in podiatry. They must pass state and national exams and be licensed in their state.
There are an estimated 15,000 practicing podiatrists in the US according to the American Podiatric Medical Association. Because of a rapidly aging population, podiatrists are in high demand. Additionally, foot conditions are among the most ignored and prevalent health complications affecting people in this country.
- Consult with physicians and their patients on how to prevent foot disorders.
- Diagnose and provide treatment for conditions such as tumors, fractures, ulcers, skin and nail diseases, and deformities.
- Correct problems such as bunions, fractures, claw toes, infections, hammertoes, and ruptured Achilles and other tendons and ligaments through the use of surgery.
- Perform ultrasounds and conduct lab tests to make diagnoses and prescribe therapies.
- Recommend and fit patients for shoe inserts, or orthotics, to correct abnormal walking patterns.
- Provide treatment for other conditions including heel spurs, infections, ingrown toenails, plantar fasciitis, bunions, corns, calluses, cysts, and bone disorders.