Feet put in a lot of work for the body - keeping it stable and in motion, absorbing the stress and impact, bearing weight. For these reasons, they require specialized care to keep them healthy. A foot doctor, also known as a podiatrist, is a physician whose profession is examining, identifying and treating diseases and problems originating in the feet and ankles. "Podiatrist" is named for the Greek words meaning 'foot' (pod) and 'physician' (iatros).
Podiatrists spend four years in medical school studying their field. They also complete three years of hospital residency to prepare them. After completing medical school, they earn the title DPM: Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. Podiatrists can also receive board certification; this requires passing rigorous testing in advanced training and clinical experience.
Podiatrists usually see patients for ankle sprains and fractures of the foot and ankle bones. They also treat foot conditions that can cause a great deal of pain; bone spurs, claw toes and plantar fasciitis, for example. Abnormal growths such as bunions, corns, warts, and calluses, and fungal infections are often seen as well. There are also designations within the field of podiatry for surgeries, sports-related care, pediatrics and wound care. Doctors within each of these specialized practices have specific training and experience.
Other physicians may identify foot-related issues, but they will likely refer their patients to a podiatrist for further testing and treatment. Podiatrists have the all the necessary qualifications, as well as the aptitude to treat this particular area of the body.
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