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What Is a Podiatrist?

A podiatrist, or doctor of podiatric medicine, is a specialist who provides medical diagnoses of and treatments for foot and ankle problems such as bunions, heel pain, spurs, hammertoes, Morton's neuroma, ingrown toenails, warts, corns, and calluses. A podiatrist also renders care for sprains, fractures, infections, and injuries of the foot, ankle, and heel. In addition to receiving undergraduate medical school training, podiatrists also attend graduate school for a doctoral degree in podiatry. Podiatrists are required to take state and national exams, and they must be licensed by the state in which they practice.

The American Podiatric Medical Association estimates that there are 15,000 practicing podiatrists in the United States. Podiatrists are in demand more than ever today because of a rapidly aging population. The Association also states that 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 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 ruptured ligaments and tendons.
     
  • Prescribe therapies and perform diagnostic procedures such as ultrasounds and lab tests.
     
  • Prescribe or fit patients with inserts called orthotics that correct walking patterns.
     
  • Treat conditions such as bone disorders, corns, calluses, cysts, heel spurs, infections, ingrown nails, and plantar fasciitis.
     
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