A podiatrist is a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), known also as a podiatric physician or surgeon, qualified by their education and training to diagnose and treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg.
When treating patients, this system is also known as the lower extremity. Podiatric physicians are uniquely qualified among medical professionals to treat the lower extremity based on their education, training and expertise. Podiatrists are defined as physicians by the federal government.
A DPM is a specialist in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of lower extremity disorders, diseases and injuries. A podiatric physician works independently, utilizes x-rays and laboratory tests for diagnostic purposes, prescribes medications, orders physical therapy, sets fractures, and performs surgery. As part of a healthcare team, the DPM works closely with other health professionals to treat and control disease.
Within the profession, podiatric physicians can specialize in a variety of areas such as surgery, orthopedics, or public health. Besides these certified specialties, podiatrists may practice a subspecialty such as sports medicine, pediatrics, dermatology, radiology, geriatrics, or diabetic foot care. Podiatric physicians are the only doctors to receive specialized medical and surgical training, and board certification in the care of the lower extremity.