Podiatry is that health vocation that is concerned with the treating and prevention of conditions of the feet and associated problems. The foot is such a complicated body part with a lot of bones, muscles, ligaments that will get confronted with all the stresses from walking and running; let alone being forced into the dark and moist climate of the shoe that it needs a entire profession dedicated to the problems with it. The issues can range from minor skin conditions such as ingrown toenails to orthopaedic problems such as plantar fasciitis to fractures.
The specific scope of practice of a podiatrist will vary from place to place with some countries like the USA where they have full surgical and medical privileges to treat the conditions of the foot to some countries in Europe where they are able to only use limited methods to take care of superficial disorders of the skin and nails. The training needed to be a podiatrist is very different between nations. In the USA, first you need an undergrad degree, then a 4 year post graduate podiatry qualification and then a 2-3 year residency. In some regions in Europe, its simply a community college one year undergrad diploma. What a podiatrist is able to do is determined by the extent of the education and the law.Podiatrists are able to use a wide range of different techniques to treat problems of the foot. This can range from a straightforward scraping of skin conditions to foot supports for orthopaedic disorders to reconstructive surgery for fractures. What is used will depend on the above scope of practice and training that the podiatrist has had. Many podiatrists will also have various special interests such a diabetes or sports medicine and they will often be found employed in multidisciplinary teams working in those areas. Probably the best contribution that podiatrists make to the medical care system is in disciplines like diabetes where correct foot care and the management of foot conditions bring about considerable saving to the health system in the prevention of amputations.