What is Podiatry?
Podiatry, or chiropody, is a specialty devoted to the study, diagnosis, and medical treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle and lower extremities.
A podiatrist (sometimes called a chiropodist) is a healthcare professional that specialises in the management of disease and disorder of the lower limb and foot. The foot is a highly complex structure that can develop problems affecting a patient’s overall health and quality of life.
Why Do I Need A Podiatrist?
Podiatry can significantly improve people’s quality of life by promoting and maintaining mobility.
The most common ailments people suffer with their feet are heel pain, corns, calluses, verrucae, ingrown toenails and fungal nails.
You may want to see a podiatrist for advice and treatment if you have painful feet, thickened or discoloured toenails, cracks or cuts in the skin, growths such as warts and verrucas, scaling or peeling on the soles, or any other foot-related problem.
Podiatrists can also supply orthotics, which are tailor-made insoles, padding and arch supports to relieve arch or heel pain.
Even if your feet are generally in good condition, you might consider having a single session of podiatry. For example, you may want to have any hard skin on your feet removed or have your toenails clipped. A podiatrist can also advise you about footwear (take your shoes with you) and check that you’re looking after your feet properly.
Podiatrists can also help with more complex foot problems, including preventing, diagnosing and treating injuries related to sports and exercise. (NHS 2018)
When Should I Definitely See a Podiatrist?
All patients with diabetes in particular, should have their feet regularly checked by a podiatrist. This is important to detect problems early and to prevent ulcers and other complications. Diabetes is a disease affecting many parts of the body, with the feet being highlighted.
- More than 65,000 lower limbs are amputated annually due to complications from diabetes.
- After an amputation, the chance of another amputation within three to five years is as high as 50 percent.
- Including a podiatrist in your diabetes care can reduce the risk of lower limb amputation by up to 85 percent and lowers the risk of hospitalisation by 24 percent.
The keys to amputation prevention are early recognition and regular foot screenings performed by a podiatrist, the foot and ankle expert. Screening consists of evaluation of neuropathy, peripheral vascular disease, deformities, foot pressures, and history of lower extremity pathology. (Lavery et al. 2005)
You might find this article on diabetic footcare helpful.
Rheumatoid arthritis in the feet is another serious condition that benefits greatly from regular visits to a podiatrist. This excellent article on rheumatoid footcare explains the care of this condition in great detail.
Friendly, caring approach to foot care
Diabetic foot care
Pregnancy foot care and advice
Arthritic foot care and advice
Minor toe and foot injuries
Corn and callus removal
Hard to cut nails
Difficult to manage feet