A podiatrist, or Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.), is a specialist responsible for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of foot disorders, D.P.M.'s, like most physicians, go through 8-12 years of preparation for their profession. After completing the standard pre-medical requirements, D.P.M.'s attend a 4-year college of podiatric medicine; many receive additional training in surgery and medicine, available in various hospitals throughout the country.
The D.P.M. usually obtains a brief medical history and conducts a thorough examination of the patient's feet and legs, ordering x-rays and lab tests when needed. Treatment may include instructions on proper foot care and shoe selection, removal of calluses, physical therapy, medication, orthotics (inserts constructed from a cast), or surgery. Some of the more common disorders seen in a podiatrist's office are fractures, sprains, infections, arch and heel problems, tumors, leg ulcers, nail disorders, and foot deformities (e.g., hammertoes and bunions). Also treated are foot problems of children, the elderly and those suffering from diabetes, arthritis, or sports related injuries.