What is a Podiatrist?

A podiatrist, also called a doctor of podiatric medicine, is a specialist who provides medical diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems, such as 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 undergraduate medical school training, podiatrists also attend graduate school for a doctorate degree in podiatry. 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 an estimated 15,000 practicing podiatrists in the United States. Podiatrists are in demand more than ever today. According to the association, foot disorders are among the most widespread and neglected health problems affecting people in this country.

Typically, podiatrists:

  • Consult with patients and other physicians on how to prevent foot problems.
  • Diagnose and treat bone, muscle/tendon, skin and nail diseases, and deformities.
  • Perform surgeries to correct or remedy such problems as bunions, claw toes, fractures, hammertoes, infections, ruptured tendons, and skin and nail disorders.
  • Prescribe therapies and perform diagnostic procedures such as x-rays and other diagnostic tests.
  • Prescribes or fits patients with inserts called orthotics that stabilize feet and alleviate foot pain.
  • Treat common conditions such as heel pain, ingrown toenails, warts and bunions.