A podiatrist is a foot doctor who practices podiatric medicine, which is a branch of science devoted to the diagnosis, treatment and study of medical disorders of the foot, ankle, lower leg and lower back. In the U.S. and Canada, as well as countries such as Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the U.K., Australia and Singapore, podiatry is practiced as a specialty. In some countries the foot doctor is known as a chiropodist or podologist.
Specialized foot care is a profession that dates back to ancient Egypt, seen through tomb carvings. Tradition links Hippocrates' development of the scalpel as a consequence of his desire to remove corns and calluses from his patients' feet. Throughout history kings and presidents alike have used the services of foot doctors to literally keep them up and working on their feet. Some have viewed podiatrists as not being "real" doctors because they treat seemingly minor ailments like bunions. In truth, however, foot care is recognized around the world as an essential part of overall good health.