Podiatry is a specialised field of healthcare that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of conditions affecting the feet and ankles. Podiatrists, (sometimes known as ‘foot doctors’) are trained medical professionals who play a crucial role in maintaining foot health and overall mobility.
Let’s dive into the world of podiatry, exploring what podiatrists do, the conditions they treat, why you might need to see a podiatrist, and what to expect during a podiatry treatment.
What does a Podiatrist do?
Podiatrists are experts in foot and lower-limb care. They will have a deep understanding of the complex structures of the feet and ankles, with their primary goal being to help individuals maintain optimal foot health and alleviate any pain or discomfort. Podiatrists diagnose and treat various foot and ankle conditions, including:
Injuries: Podiatrists are skilled in treating sprains, strains, and other injuries affecting the feet and ankles. They use a range of techniques such as immobilisation, physical therapy, and orthotic devices to promote healing and restore functionality.
Foot deformities: Podiatrists can address deformities like bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, and high arches. They can recommend appropriate footwear, prescribe custom orthotics, and provide guidance on exercises and stretching routines to alleviate discomfort and correct underlying structural issues.
Nail and skin conditions: Podiatrists can also treat conditions such as ingrown toenails, fungal infections, corns, calluses, and warts. They can perform minor surgical procedures, offer topical treatments, and provide advice on proper foot hygiene to prevent recurrence.
Diabetic foot care: Patients with diabetes are prone to foot complications, including nerve damage, poor circulation, and slow-healing wounds. Podiatrists play a vital role in managing these conditions, performing regular foot examinations, providing education on proper foot care, and developing preventive strategies to minimise the risk of diabetic foot ulcers and amputations.
Reasons to see a Podiatrist:
Seeing a podiatrist is essential for anyone experiencing foot/ankle discomfort, pain, or mobility issues. Here are some key reasons you might choose to seek podiatric care:
Pain: Persistent pain in the feet or ankles can significantly affect daily activities and quality of life. Podiatrists can diagnose the underlying cause of the pain and provide appropriate treatment options, ranging from conservative therapies to surgical interventions if necessary.
Injury: Athletes and active individuals often suffer from foot and ankle injuries due to the physical demands placed on these body parts. Podiatrists specialise in sports medicine, creating tailored treatment plans to facilitate quick recovery, whilst preventing re-injury, and optimising performance.
Chronic conditions: People with chronic conditions like arthritis or neuropathy may develop foot complications that require specialised care. Podiatrists can help manage these conditions, relieve pain, and improve mobility to enhance overall well-being.
Foot care for older adults: As we age, foot problems become more common, impacting mobility and balance. Podiatrists provide comprehensive foot care for older adults, addressing issues such as pain, arthritis, circulation problems, and fall prevention.
What can you expect at your Podiatry Treatment?
During your initial podiatry appointment, you can expect a thorough examination of your feet, ankles and lower leg. The podiatrist will inquire about your medical history and lifestyle, and listen to any specific concerns you have.
Once a diagnosis is made, your podiatrist will discuss the treatment options available. These may include:
Non-invasive treatments: Podiatrists will often start by recommending non-invasive treatments to address these conditions, which may involve specific exercises, stretches, or physical therapy to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion. They may also prescribe orthotic devices, such as custom-made shoe inserts, to provide support, correct alignment, and reduce pain.
Medications and topical treatments: In some cases, podiatrists may prescribe medications to manage pain, reduce inflammation, or treat infections. They may also recommend topical creams, ointments, or antifungal agents for conditions affecting the skin or nails.
Minimally invasive procedures: When conservative treatments do not provide sufficient relief, podiatrists may perform minimally invasive procedures. These include techniques like cortisone injections for inflammation, extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) for chronic heel pain, or laser therapy for fungal nail infections. These procedures are often performed in the podiatrist’s office and have shorter recovery times compared to traditional surgery!
Surgical interventions: In more severe cases or when conservative measures have been unsuccessful, podiatrists may recommend surgical intervention.
Throughout your podiatry treatment, your podiatrist will provide guidance and support, monitoring your progress and adjusting the treatment plan as necessary. They will also offer advice on preventive measures, proper footwear, and self-care techniques to maintain foot health and prevent future issues.
Podiatrists play a vital role in promoting foot health, alleviating pain, and enhancing mobility. By understanding what podiatrists do, the conditions they treat, and the reasons to seek their care, you can make informed decisions about your foot health.
Whether it’s addressing injuries, managing chronic conditions, or maintaining overall foot well-being, our podiatrist can provide comprehensive care to improve your quality of life. If you’re experiencing foot or ankle discomfort, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our podiatrist and take the first step toward healthier feet!