What does a podiatrist do?
Podiatrists are degree-qualified professionals, regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council. They are qualified to diagnose and treat disorders with the feet, ankles and lower limbs, including problems with nails, skin, and the musculoskeletal system. Podiatrists can work with or recommend referrals to other health professionals such as physiotherapists and podiatric surgeons in order to treat certain disorders.
What is the difference between a chiropodist and a podiatrist?
The term ‘podiatrist’ originated in North America but is now the generally-accepted term for such professionals in the UK, while the term ‘chiropodist’ is now considered to be slightly antiquated. Many people believe chiropodists carry out simple aspects of foot care, for instance toenail cutting and removing corns. A podiatrist has a broad scope of work, which does include visible problems such as skin and nail care, but also involves care of the feet and lower limbs affected by certain medical conditions e.g. diabetes, and disorders of deeper structures such as joints and muscles. Podiatrists can also help with sports injuries affecting the feet and lower limbs, often by improving the posture and function of the feet with the use of orthotic insoles.
Should I see a podiatrist?
Pain in the feet and ankles can affect males and females of all ages. If you are suffering from pain in these areas, particularly if this has been going on for some time, it is advisable to see a podiatrist as they can diagnose the problem, then formulate a treatment plan for you. Many disorders can be treated by the podiatrist but occasionally, further investigation may be required e.g. x-rays or ultrasound scans. A podiatrist can discuss this with you and liaise with your GP if this is the case.
I have been told I need to wear special insoles but I am concerned that they won’t fit into my shoes.
Orthotic insoles (what some may call ‘arch supports’) can be invaluable in improving foot and ankle pain, indeed it can be difficult to gain improvement in certain conditions e.g. plantar fasciitis, without their use. These days, orthotics are available in various materials and thicknesses so that a podiatrist can prescribe a pair to best suit your needs and your lifestyle. An orthotic which is designed for a football or rugby boot will be different to one which suits an everyday shoe or a running shoe. A podiatrist will discuss this with you and give you advice on suitable footwear to help you to wear your orthotics. In some cases, a change of footwear may be enough to solve the problem or pain you are experiencing and orthotics may not be necessary.