To be a podiatrist, individuals are required to receive an undergraduate degree, and they also need training from a four-year podiatry program. Like other doctors, they must also be licensed to practice medicine. As a specialty, podiatry is in high demand.
Some may offer general services, others may specialize. Most commonly, the specialties are geriatric, pediatric and sports medicine. Minor surgery is not uncommonly performed in podiatry clinics, for example, minor surgery is sometimes performed to remove heel spurs.
Geriatric podiatrists are commonly faced with issues caused by poor circulation, especially in diabetics. Arthritis of the foot and ankle is also common in the elderly. Many older people develop a condition that causes heel pain and is commonly treated with physical therapy and increased arch support. Older people are also more prone to bunions and ingrown toenails.
In pediatrics, care tends to focus on overall development of a healthy foot and ankle. In some cases, pediatric deformities such as a club foot have to be dealt with.
Although podiatry is about feet, issues in sports medicine often involve the entire leg. A podiatrist may be involved in the treatment of a tendon injury. They may also have to treat turf toe and even broken toes as a result of a sports injury. Ballet dancers are unusually prone to bunions as a result of time spent on their toes.
General podiatrists may treat a variety of problems. They may prescribe pain relievers. Much of what they do is preventive care and offering advice on how to avoid foot problems. They may offer, for example, advice on the best kind of shoe to wear.
The combination of an aging population and an increase in physical activity is likely to increase the demand for podiatry specialists.