A podiatrist, also known as a podiatric physician or surgeon, is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM) who focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle and lower leg. A podiatrist uses X-rays and laboratory tests, followed by treatments such as surgery, medication, physical therapy, orthotics and casts.
Within the field of podiatric medicine, practitioners can focus on many different specialty areas, including surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics or primary care.
What medical background does a podiatrist have?
Podiatrists must earn a four-year degree as a Doctor of Podiatric medicine from an accredited school of Podiatry. This is followed, in most but not all states, by completion of a two- to three-year hospital or clinic-based residency training. The American Board of Podiatric Orthopedics and Primary Podiatric Medicine (ABPOPPM) is the certifying board for the specialty areas of podiatric orthopedics and primary podiatric medicine. The American Board of Podiatric Surgery (ABPS) is the certifying board for the specialty area of foot and ankle surgery.
When would I see a podiatrist, and what conditions does a podiatrist treat?
You would visit a podiatrist when you are experiencing a foot problem or any discomfort or pain in your lower legs or ankles. Podiatrists treat a range of conditions affecting these areas, including numbness and amputation caused by complications associated with diabetes. Doctors of podiatric medicine treat common foot conditions such as calluses, warts and blisters, as well as athlete’s foot and xerosis (dry skin). A podiatrist also treats conditions of the small toes, including claw toes and hammertoes, as well as fractures in the foot and ankle.