Podiatry is a branch of medicine devoted to the study of, diagnosis, and medical treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle, and lower extremity. A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) is a specialist qualified by their education and training to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle, and structures of the leg. Podiatric physicians have extensive background knowledge in human anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, sociological and psychological perspectives, general medicine, surgery and pharmacology.
Within the field of podiatry, podiatric physicians rotate through major areas of medicine gaining exposure and practice to areas including but not limited to: surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, geriatrics, internal medicine, diabetes, vascular, neurological, pediatrics, dermatological, orthopedics, or primary care.
Podiatrists diagnose and treat medical conditions affecting the foot, ankle and related structures (including the tendons that insert into the foot and the nonsurgical treatment of the muscles and tendons of the leg). Podiatrists are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat the foot and ankle. Given its specialization, podiatry is to the foot and ankle what ophthalmology is to the eye or cardiology is to the heart. Whether it’s sports medicine, pediatrics, dermatology or diabetes, today’s podiatrist can tackle the many diverse facets of foot care. Podiatrists are often the first to identify systemic diseases in patients, such as diabetes and associated complications, high blood pressure and heart disease.
Did you know that Podiatrists:
- perform surgery
- perform complete medical histories and physical examinations
- prescribe medications
- set fractures and treat sports-related injuries
- prescribe and fit orthotics, insoles, and custom-made shoes
- order and perform physical therapy
- take and interpret X-rays and other imaging studies
Doctors of podiatric medicine receive medical education and training comparable to medical doctors, including four years of undergraduate education, four years of graduate education at one of nine podiatric medical colleges and two or three years of hospital-based residency training.