The feet-related duties of a podiatrist include performing a thorough assessment exam, and listening to patient concerns regarding their feet and lower legs. A diagnosis is made by performing a physical exam, by using laboratory tests such as blood tests or urinalysis, with x-rays, and through other methods. The podiatrist treats common foot troubles such as bunions, as well as complex foot and ankle surgeries such as the removal of bone spurs. They also prescribe medications and provide follow-up care instructions and advice. Podiatrists will also prescribe medical devices such as orthotics and arch supports in order to improve mobility and treat lower leg ailments and pain.
Some common foot and lower leg ailments treated by a podiatrist:
cysts and tumors
warts, corns, calluses
sprains and fractures
skin disorders like plantar warts
Foot deformities, either birth defects like clubfoot, or problems caused by neglect or damage, are also treated by a foot doctor, along with any feet issues causing abnormal posture or gait. Many times larger health problems, such as arthritis or diabetes, are often diagnosed through symptoms first seen in the feet. Diabetic neuropathy is a condition in which cuts or sores on the feet are not felt and can become infected or muscle damage occurs. In these cases the podiatrist will refer patients to other physicians or specialists.
There are a number of subspecialties in the field of podiatry. Podiatric sports medicine treats foot and ankle injuries commonly occurring among athletes. Pediatric care podiatrists treat children, including those with congenital foot defects. Advanced surgical podiatrists focus on advanced surgical techniques, including foot and ankle reconstruction after injury. There are also specialties in geriatrics, dermatology, orthopedics, vascular medicine, diabetes and other areas.