What Is Podiatry?
What Is Podiatry?
A Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM) practices the medical, surgical, and biomechanical treatment of the human foot, ankle, and associated structures. Although we specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of problems affecting the foot and ankle, Doctors of Podiatric Medicine are also highly trained health care providers. We see people of all ages and are often the first medical specialists to diagnose systemic problems that affect the feet and ankles such as diabetes, gout, hypertension, immunodeficiencies, and arthritis.
Four years of podiatric medical school is typically followed by 2 or 3 years of residency that certifies these doctors to function as partners within the larger medical community. Podiatric physicians (podiatrists) are medical professionals who exclusively specialize in treating both the foot and the ankle.
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- Diagnoses lower extremity pathology such as tumors, ulcers, fractures, skin and nail diseases, and congenital and acquired deformities.
- Makes independent judgments, prescribes medications, utilizes x-rays, MRI, ultrasound and other laboratory tests for diagnostic purposes, and orders physical therapy.
- Treats conditions such as: corns, calluses, bunions, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, ingrown nails, cysts, bone disorders, and infections of the foot.
- Fits corrective inserts called orthotics that address walking patterns to improve the overall ability of effective and efficient ambulation.
- Provides consultations for the patient and for referring physicians regarding prevention of podiatric problems and possible treatments.
- Performs surgical correction of the foot including: hammertoes, clawtoes, bunions, fractures, infections, ruptured ligaments and tendons, and neuro-vascular abnormalities of the foot.
The professional care of feet was in existence in ancient Egypt as evidenced by bas-relief carvings at the entrance to Ankmahor’s tomb dating from about 2400 BC where work on hands and feet is depicted.
Until the turn of the 20th century, chiropodists, (now known as podiatrists) were separate from organized medicine. They were independently licensed physicians who treated the feet, ankles and related leg structures.
There are records of the King of France employing a personal podiatrist, as did Abraham Lincoln suffered greatly with his feet and chose a chiropodist.
The first society of chiropodists, now known as podiatrists, was established in—and still operates in—New York in 1895 as NYSPMA, with the first school opening in 1911. One year later the British established a society at the London Foot Hospital and a school was added in 1919.