A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in foot and ankle conditions. Podiatrists begin their training similar to medical doctors and osteopathic doctors, with 4 years of podiatric medical school after college. During this time, podiatrists undergo general medical training, but later on they begin to devote significant time to studying diseases and injuries of the foot and ankle. A typical podiatrist will then train in a residency program after graduation, usually for 2-3 years studying advanced treatment and surgery. A podiatrist is licensed to treat all conditions involving the foot, as well as the ankle in most states. These include skin and nail diseases, nerve entrapment and disease, bone and tendon injuries, and surgical reconstruction of deformities like bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, and arthritis.
No other specialist has more training in foot and ankle disease than a podiatrist, and are generally the preferred specialist that other doctors refer to when they come across foot and ankle conditions in their patients. Podiatrists also play a big role in the comprehensive treatment of diabetics, and are often the first physicians to diagnose serious circulation disease in the legs. In addition to all this, podiatrists integrate the study of biomechanics into their treatment, which is the study of how the body interacts with the ground and itself during motion. Many common foot and ankle conditions outside of accidental injury can have their origins be traced back to a structural problem or abnormality of the shape or functioning of the foot and its bones. Podiatrists often include better structural support and shoe selection in their treatment plans to help reduce the likelihood that a foot condition will return once it is healed.