Podiatrists are allied health professionals who specialise in conditions pertaining to the feet, ankle and lower legs. They also provide preventative care and advice on how to improve mobility, independence and the quality of life for their patients.
As a podiatrist you would treat a wide range of defects, injuries and infections of the lower leg and foot including ingrown toenails, bunions, corns and calluses. You would also treat foot and nail conditions associated with other major health disorders such as diabetes or oedema. Prescribing and making orthotic inserts for patients is also part of a podiatrist’s responsibility. Orthotic inserts provide patients with the additional support they need to help them walk without discomfort.
Having expert knowledge of the mechanics of the body is absolutely necessary in order to preserve and restore movement in patients.
Typical tasks would include:
Diagnoses, assessment and treatment of injuries, abnormalities and diseases related to the lower limb and foot in individuals across all age groups
Providing advice and treatment for high-risk patients such as the elderly and those with higher risk of amputation
Employing appropriate therapeutic or surgical techniques to treat foot and lower leg issues
Using different types of equipment from dressings and surgical instruments to X-Rays, lasers, grinders, treatment tables and shaping equipment
Prescribing, ordering and fitting orthotics and other mobility aids when necessary
Educating patients on matters concerning foot health
Podiatrists work closely with other medical practitioners including physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and complementary practitioners in order to provide patients with the most comprehensive treatment.
Foot problems and the podiatrist
What does a podiatrist do?
Podiatrists are health care professionals who have been trained to prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate abnormal conditions of the feet and lower limbs. They also prevent and correct deformity, keep people mobile and active, relieve pain and treat infections.
They can give you and your family advice on how to look after your feet and what type of shoes to wear. They can also treat and alleviate day-to-day foot problems, including:
toenail problems, such as thickened, fungal or ingrown toenails
corns and calluses
dry and cracked heels
How can a podiatrist help?
You may want to see a podiatrist for advice and treatment if you have painful feet, thickened or discoloured toenails, cracks or cuts in the skin, growths such as warts, scaling or peeling on the soles, or any other foot-related problem.
Podiatrists can also supply orthotics, which are tailor-made insoles, padding and arch supports to relieve arch or heel pain. You put the orthotic device into your shoe to re-align your foot, take pressure off vulnerable areas of your foot, or simply to make your shoes more comfortable.
Even if your feet are generally in good condition, you might consider having a single session of podiatry to have the hard skin on your feet removed, toenails clipped, to find out if you’re wearing the right shoes (take your shoes with you for specific advice on footwear) or just to check that you’re looking after your feet properly.
Podiatrists can also help with more complex foot problems including preventing, diagnosing and treating injuries related to sports and/or exercise.
What’s the difference between a podiatrist and a chiropodist?
There’s no difference between a podiatrist and chiropodist, but podiatrist is a more modern name.