What is a Podiatrist?

Dr. Jeffrey Jensen

What is a Podiatrist?

Podiatrists are medical professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, injuries, and disorders of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. Podiatrists also work to prevent problems by providing care for regular maintenance and promoting healthy living practices.

What do podiatrists do? 

Podiatrists specialize in the foot and ankle, providing comprehensive care, from routine checkups to major corrective surgical procedures. They diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions such as bunions, hammertoes, heel pain, ingrown nails, plantar warts, and corns. Podiatrists may also provide orthotics, perform surgery, implement wound care, or prescribe physical therapy.

Podiatry is a specialized field of medicine that requires specific education and training. A podiatrist must have the knowledge to accurately diagnose and treat foot and ankle problems, and they must also understand the biomechanics of the foot to provide effective treatment.

How are podiatrists trained? 

Podiatrists must complete a four-year doctoral program at an accredited college of podiatric medicine, followed by a three-year residency program. The first two years include basic sciences such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology. In addition, podiatric medical students will be trained in podiatric medicine, podiatric surgery, general medicine and biomechanics.  During the last two years, students learn more in-depth clinical skills including diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle diseases and conditions. 

During the residency, podiatrists learn advanced skills in surgery, wound care, and patient management. 

Are podiatrists board-certified? 

Yes, podiatrists can attain board certification.  Board certification is awarded after a podiatrist has passed rigorous exams followed by case reviews and examinations.

Upon successful completion of their education and training, podiatrists become board-certified through the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery (ABFAS) and/or the American Board of Podiatric Medicine (ABPM).

Are all podiatrists surgeons?

Yes, today all podiatrists are trained as surgeons. However, not all of them perform surgeries. Podiatrists may specialize in different areas such as sports medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, diabetic foot care, wound care, and limb preservation. Depending on the area of specialty a podiatrist may opt for performing more or less surgery than others.

What is a podiatrist’s salary? 

The salary of a podiatrist varies depending on the location, specialty, and experience. Generally speaking, a podiatrist can expect to earn around the median of $225,000. Podiatrists who specialize in certain areas or have gone through extensive further education may expect to earn more than the median salary.

Why would someone see a podiatrist? 

Someone may see a podiatrist for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Foot pain or injury
  • Heel pain or injury
  • Toenail problems
  • Diabetic foot care
  • Infections or wounds on the feet and ankles
  • Warts, corns, or calluses on the feet and toes
  • Bunions, hammertoes, or other deformities
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Ankle sprains or injuries
  • Flat feet or high arches
  • Many more conditions…

What do podiatrists treat? 

Podiatrists are trained in the medical and surgical treatment of the foot and ankle. This includes treating the above conditions such as bunions, heel pain, ingrown toenails, warts, corns, and calluses. They can also treat fractures of the foot and ankle and provide orthotics for patients with structural deformities or other problems.

Podiatrists may also provide diabetic foot and wound care such as regular assessments and treatments aimed at preventing complications from diabetes. Limb salvage is another area of expertise — specially trained podiatrists provide wound care and limb preservation for patients with diabetes and ulcers or infections. Podiatrists may also specialize in sports medicine and can provide orthotics and perform gait analysis.

What is the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedist? 

A podiatrist is a foot specialist who focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illnesses and injuries related to the feet. An orthopedist is a medical doctor specializing in bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and associated structures. While both types of doctors focus on issues relating to the lower body, orthopedists may also treat problems related to the hip, knee, and shoulder.

What is the difference between a foot specialist and a podiatrist?

Some physicians, such as M.D.’s and D.O.’s, treat foot and ankle problems. A true podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DPM).

Interested in becoming a podiatric physician? Apply now!