Podiatry: What is Podiatric Medicine

Understanding the Similarities Between Podiatrists and Physicians

podiatry, feet, foot, podiatric, podiatrist
Podiatry Includes the Care of Diabetic Feet. Image: ADAM


Podiatry is the treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle.

A podiatrist is a doctor of podiatric medicine.

While the podiatrist does undergo a four year post-graduate training program similar to medical school, podiatrists (DPM) differ from the M.D. and D.O. trained physicians.  Physicians who complete medical school are then able to pursue the specialty of their choice in residency while graduates of podiatry school are able to pursue a career in the care of feet and ankles.


Podiatrists, who are doctors but not physicians, receive extensive training in the anatomy and physiology of the human body, but they are specifically trained to treat diseases and problems with the feet and ankles, and may not pursue a residency in other areas of medicine despite their extensive education in all  of systems of the human body.  

Depending on the nature of their residency training, which are typically three years in length, podiatrists can perform a wide variety of treatments and surgeries on the foot and ankle. Treatments provided by podiatrists range from non-invasive shoe inserts and orthotics, to the treatment of ingrown toenails, preventative diabetic foot care and surgical procedures.  

Podiatrists often specialize.  One may specialize in care that can be provided in the office setting, while another may prefer surgical medicine.  Some may specialize in non-invasive treatment of foot pain while another may treat primarily diabetic patients and their related foot issues.

Also Known As: foot doctor, feet doctor, podiatric, podiatrist

Examples: Jane began to see a podiatrist after she was diagnosed with heel spurs and was told that custom orthotics might improve her ability to walk without pain.

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