Fact #1: We don’t deal with kids, that’s Paediatrics. Podiatrists are all about feet and we can do a lot more for you than you thought.
First off, I’m writing from Australia – each country has their own versions of a Podiatrist – in France they’re called Chiropodists and in America, Podiatry is a specialised branch of Medicine.
In Australia, Podiatry courses generally run for 4 years and graduates must gain at least 1000 hours of clinical experience in that time, through internal and external placements. Subjects taught include anatomy, biomechanics, pathophysiology, psychology, gerontology and podiatric medicine.
A common misconception is that podiatrists cut toenails. Period. While that service is within our range of skills, we can do so much more and people who could definitely use our help are just unaware of this.
We also conduct biomechanical assessments – basically we’ll take a look at how you walk, and use some high tech equipment to measure peak pressures under your feet and the angles at which your joints are moving. We’re highly qualified to interpret this information, relate it back to the rest of your body and diagnose any pain or discomfort. If you think about it, your feet experience the consequences of everything else that’s going wrong in your body. Conversely, fixing your feet may alleviate anything from knee pain to lower back problems.
Podiatrists can make temporary or permanent orthotic devices ( like insoles) to help align your feet, knees and hips properly and relieve pain. These are fully customised and we do everything from taking a plaster cast of your feet to moulding the materials to grinding them into the right shape. We’ll review these devices and make as many little changes as you want.
Surgery is also an aspect of Podiatric practise. Podiatrists can specialise in surgery and perform extensive procedures on the foot and leg, but the average podiatrist will stick to ingrown nails and the like. A partial nail avulsion is a pretty standard procedure and offers a permanent solution to ingrown toenails.
We also play a part in the management of patients with severe wounds and ulcers – as part of a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, we monitor these patients, offer advice to their family and carers, and strive to eliminate the underlying problems.
There are several diseases which have an impact on the feet. Arterial problems will limit the blood supply to the feet especially and cause skin breakdown, atrophy and ulceration. Venous insufficiency can cause oedema in the lower limbs and varicose veins that may rupture at any moment. We monitor these diseases, implement interventions to prevent them from worsening and treat the consequences.
Above all, podiatrists play a vital role in the management of diabetes. Diabetes mellitus can decrease the sensation in your feet to the point that patients can severely injure their feet and not even know it’s happened. For a more detailed explanation of the impact of diabetes on the foot, click here.
We manage everyone from babies with clubfoot, teenagers with flat feet, pregnant women with swollen ankles, star athletes with stress fractures and tinea, middle aged marathon runners with the wrong shoes, to elderly men and women who just can’t reach their toenails any more and don’t have anyone to look after them.
So if you’re suffering from foot pain, have a lower limb injury that isn’t getting better, or have a strange discoloration/lesion/rash on your foot, chances are we can help ^_^ Let us take care of you and your loved ones – you won’t regret seeing a Podiatrist and you’ll be surprised by the solutions we have to offer!