Podiatry deals with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of medical and surgical conditions of the feet and lower limbs.
The conditions podiatrists treat include those resulting from bone and joint disorders such as arthritis and soft-tissue and muscular pathologies, as well as neurological and circulatory disease. Podiatrists are also able to diagnose and treat any complications of the above which affect the lower limb, including skin and nail disorders, corns, calluses and ingrown toenails. Foot injuries and infections gained through sport or other activities are also diagnosed and treated by podiatrists.
A range of skills are employed by podiatrists. Direct consultations include a clinical history composition, physical examination, diagnosis, preparation of a treatment plan and provision of a range of therapies. Clinical assessment techniques aim to secure a diagnosis and prognosis and take into account clinical, medical and surgical history, footwear, occupational and lifestyle factors, and may incorporate the use of diagnostic equipment such as vascularscopes or radiology. Gait analysis will often be undertaken through visual or computerised means and might include range of motion studies, postural alignment evaluation or dynamic force and pressure studies.
Clinical services require skilled use of sterilised instruments and appropriate infection control procedures, along with appropriate application of pharmacological agents, specialist wound dressings and a variety of physical therapies. Prescription foot orthoses (in-shoe devices) offer permanent solutions in the treatment and prevention of corns, callous and necrotic ulceration in their capacity to provide pressure redistribution. As a technique for providing consistent weight bearing realignment they are utilised in the treatment of acute and chronic foot conditions such as tendonitis, recurrent ankle sprain, chronic knee pain and stress fractures, to supplement and enhance clinical care.
When to see a Podiatrist
Do you think you may need to see a podiatrist?
Podiatrists are foot health experts who are university-trained to prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate medical and surgical conditions of the feet and lower limbs. Often, these conditions stem from other underlying health issues such as diabetes, stress fractures and arthritis.
Why do people see podiatrists?
Your feet house a quarter of the bones in our entire bodies – in addition to various muscles, ligaments and joints. This makes them extremely vulnerable to injury and diseases that can affect the entire body.
A podiatrist will not just look at your foot, but they will carry out a biomechanical assessment to see how your gait can be impacting other parts of your body, such as your hips. (Your gait is the way you walk.)
Podiatrists fully understand the structure and movement of the foot and lower limbs. They are able to diagnose foot conditions, identify systemic overall health conditions that present with foot or lower limb symptoms – and recommend appropriate treatment plans.
When should you see a podiatrist?
You may be experiencing pain in your feet, ingrown or discoloured skin/nails, corns, skin rashes, foot odour, foot injuries, broader health problems such as diabetes or arthritis, recurrent tripping or falling, problems fitting comfortably in your regular shoes; or if you notice swelling, lumps, or redness on your feet or legs.
It is a common misconception that painful feet are a normal side effect from everyday activities. Yet research shows that only a fraction of individuals suffering from sore feet seek out professional advice.
Just as you would visit your dentist for a toothache, you should visit a podiatrist if you suffer from painful or tired feet and/or lower limbs.
Information provided by The Podiatry Association: https://www.podiatry.org.au/