Your feet are complex structures that support the weight of your body and carry you through life. Sadly, they’re usually neglected until they become painful, sprained, or swollen. That’s where podiatry treatment comes in.
In this article, we explore podiatry, a profession that treats injuries and conditions of the feet. You’ll find out when to visit a podiatrist, how to find a qualified podiatrist, and what to expect during a podiatry consultation.
Table of contents
- 5 interesting facts about podiatry
- What is podiatry?
- When and how is podiatry used?
- What is the evidence to support podiatry?
- What can I expect as a podiatry patient?
5 interesting facts about podiatry
What is podiatry treatment?
Podiatry is a healthcare speciality that’s been practised since the early 1900s when it was known as chiropody. It prevents, diagnoses, and treats non-emergency conditions affecting the feet and lower limbs.
A podiatry professional is known as a podiatrist. They have an in-depth understanding of the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves in the feet and ankles, helping them diagnose and treat various foot disorders.
When and how is podiatry treatment used?
Podiatrists can identify a wide variety of foot conditions in people of all ages. They may work in a hospital, community setting or private practice.
Podiatrists offer both conservative care and corrective care. This ranges from prescribing the correct footwear for an athlete to removing ingrown toenails. They will examine your feet and, if necessary, refer you for surgery or further testing.
You should see a podiatrist if you are experiencing painful foot growths, toenail infections, or have trouble wearing shoes, walking, or standing. It’s also common to visit a podiatrist to reduce complications associated with chronic health conditions.
Is a Podiatrist a medical doctor?
Podiatrists are often called foot doctors. However, while podiatrists have in-depth training and can diagnose foot conditions, they’re not considered medical doctors in the UK.
Podiatrists work closely with doctors and other medical professionals as part of a healthcare team.
Podiatry is used in a range of siturations
Podiatrists identify and treat the root cause of various foot conditions. Some of the most common conditions they see include:
- Heel spurs
- Nail infections
- Ingrown toenails
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Poor circulation
- Pronated feet
- Athlete’s foot
- Plantar fasciitis
- Flat feet
- High arches
- Foot odour
- Cracked heels
Most people who use podiatry services have chronic health conditions that put them at higher risk for foot conditions and infections. This includes diabetes, arthritis, obesity, neurological conditions, and heart disease.
Types of podiatry treatments
Podiatrists may specialise in one or more areas of care.
Sports podiatry: Specialising in improving performance by treating sports injuries affecting the feet and lower legs.
Paediatric podiatry: Specialising in treating foot conditions and improving mobility in children.
Geriatric podiatry: Specialising in foot conditions affecting the elderly.
Diabetic podiatry: Specialising in diabetes complications such as poor circulation, nerve damage, and infections.
Orthotics podiatry: Specialising in correcting structural problems and improving mobility with orthotic devices.
Dermatological podiatry: Specialising in preventing and treating skin conditions and infections.
What is the evidence to support Podiatry?
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends podiatry for chronic health conditions that may affect the feet, including diabetes1. Research shows that receiving care from a podiatrist is associated with a lower risk of diabetes-related amputations and hospitalisations2.
Evidence suggests that visiting a podiatrist for preventive treatment improves foot care knowledge and reduces minor foot issues3. It may also reduce the rate of falls in people in care homes4.
What can I expect as a podiatry patient?
Let’s explore what you can experience when visiting a podiatrist for the first time.
The podiatry consultation
What exactly does a podiatrist do? Your first consultation with a podiatrist involves discussing your medical and family history, your medications, and your symptoms. They’ll examine your feet, ankles, lower legs, and knees and assess how you walk and stand. They may also ask you to do foot movements to access your joints. In some cases, a foot swab for infection or ultrasound to measure blood flow are required. This assists the podiatrist to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe a treatment plan.
Your podiatrist will talk to you about your diagnosis and treatment and advise you on proper foot care. Appointments typically last 30-60 minutes, and many of the treatments can be done in the office. They can give steroid injections, remove ingrown toenails, remove corns and calluses, treat infections, and recommend the correct footwear.
How do I find a podiatrist, and what qualifications should they have?
In the UK, podiatrists must complete a degree in podiatry and register with Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). This ensures they are qualified, abide by a code of ethics, and have the relevant insurance.
You can find a podiatrist near me by searching Treatwiser directory or alternatively you can search the HCPC website, the British Chiropody and Podiatry Association, and the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.
It’s also a good idea to ask for recommendations from your local GP or trusted friends and family.
How much will it cost?
If you have a foot condition because of a chronic disease such as arthritis or diabetes, you can access podiatry on the NHS. You may also qualify for NHS podiatry services if your condition impacts your mobility.
Many people will need to pay for podiatry privately. The cost of an appointment varies. However, the initial consultation may range between £55-£100, including the assessment and initial treatment. Some conditions will require more extensive treatment.
Personalised orthotics and diagnostic testing will come at an additional cost. Ask your podiatrist for their fees before booking your first appointment.
How many appointments will I need?
The number of appointments you need depends on your circumstances and will be discussed during your initial appointment.
Some conditions are treated in just one or two appointments. However, chronic issues may require more frequent visits. It’s also common to go for an annual check-up to maintain the health of your feet.
Do podiatry treatments hurt?
You may experience some discomfort during the foot exam and treatment if your condition or injury is painful. Invasive treatment is accompanied by local anaesthesia. Always tell your podiatrist if you experience increased pain at any point.
What are the major risks associated with podiatry treatments?
Podiatry is safe when practised by a trained podiatrist. Treatment can be life-changing when you’re struggling with discomfort!
Resources and further podiatry treatment information
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