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Podiatry is a specialized field within healthcare dedicated to the comprehensive study, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders associated with the foot, ankle, and in some cases, extending up to the knee, leg, and hip. Collectively, these areas are referred to as the lower extremity. The capacity of podiatry to manage various disorders of the lower extremity largely hinges on the established scope of practice, which may vary based on national, state, or provincial jurisdiction.

In recent times, the importance and recognition of podiatry as a medical specialty have grown across the globe. Yet, its roots and significant presence are primarily in the United States, where it evolved from traditional chiropody and expanded to incorporate a more holistic and, when required, surgical methodology in treating lower extremity ailments.

For a more detailed understanding of podiatry as a profession, please see podiatrist.

An Australian perspective on the history of podiatry is available at A History of Podiatry.

Anatomy and Physiology

Podiatry delves deep into the understanding of the anatomy and physiology of several key areas:

Skin Disorders

The skin of the foot can develop various conditions, including:

Joint Disorders

Joint abnormalities in the foot include:

  • Hallux valgus (bunion): A bump at the base of the big toe.
  • Hallux varus: Opposite of a bunion, with the big toe deviating away from the midline.

Bone Disorders

Problems can arise in the bones of the foot and ankle:

Nerve Disorders

Nerve-related conditions of the foot:

Combined Disorders

Genetic Disorders

Some foot and ankle disorders are inherited:

Systemic Disease Manifestations

Conditions that are manifestations of systemic diseases:

Common Complicating Factors

  • High heels: Footwear that can contribute to various foot disorders.

Tests and Procedures

Podiatrists are equipped to diagnose and treat a multitude of foot and ankle conditions. This includes:


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