PODIATRY

Our feet are often the most neglected and forgotten part of our body. Often it is not until they become painful that we pay them any attention. And it’s at this moment we begin to realise how much we rely on our feet for our mobility and independence – particularly when we are older.

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WHAT IS PODIATRY?

Podiatry is the clinical discipline concerned with the diagnosis and comprehensive management of foot and lower limb pathologies. This involves the management of a wide variety of disorders, injuries and local manifestations of systemic conditions.

This podiatric management may be curative, preventative or require long-term palliation or health education. Podiatrists have opportunities to specialise in a diverse range of clinical practice including podiatric:

  • biomechanics
  • dermatology
  • diabetes
  • gerontology
  • paediatrics
  • rheumatology
  • sports medicine
  • surgery

WHO ARE PODIATRISTS AND WHERE DO I FIND ONE?

If you have a problem with your feet the most appropriate person to see is your podiatrist.

Podiatrists are health care practitioners who diagnose and treat disorders of the foot and lower leg. Conditions such as diabetes and arthritis often have associated foot problems which may be assisted by podiatrists. Appropriate diagnosis and treatment can help ensure your feet won’t develop any serious problems later in life.

You can find podiatrists working in a variety of locations including community health centres, private practice, hospitals, sports medicine clinics and nursing homes. Podiatrist work as part of your overall health care team and therefore may consult with other health care practitioners when managing foot or foot-related problems.

DIABETES AND PODIATRY

Even though most of us are likely to have some sort of problem with our feet, people with diabetes are potentially at greater risk of developing serious foot problems.

This is because people with diabetes are more likely to experience reduced blood circulation and nerve degeneration in their feet and legs, causing a decreased ability to fight infection. All these factors contribute to a reduced ability to heal even minor cuts and abrasions.

Anyone who has diabetes is strongly advised to have their feet checked by a podiatrist for assessment of circulation, nerve function, other potential risks and advice on preventive foot care. This should be done on a regular basis, or as recommended by a podiatrist (which injuries of the feet tend to be).

CORRECTING PROBLEMS EARLY

We worry about our children’s teeth, eyes and other parts of the body. But do we take enough care of our children’s still developing feet which have a big job to do-to carry us throughout life.

There are various stages in the development of a child’s lower limbs which may sometimes include being slightly flat-footed, in-toed, bow-legged or knock-kneed for a time. If you have any concerns with this aspect of your child’s development, see a Podiatrist.

Many foot conditions affecting adults may have been avoided by detection and treatment during early childhood.

SPORTS

Aches, strains and pains in the feet, legs, knees and even the lower back may be due to abnormal function of the foot. This may become particularly apparent with regular sporting activity. Imbalances in our feet and legs that remain unnoticed during our daily activities can give rise to injuries when placed under the repeated strains of sporting activities.

It is a good idea to visit a podiatrist before entering a sports program involving feet and legs, to make certain your body’ connection with the ground is in proper working order.

FOOT ORTHOSES

If needed, Podiatrists may prescribe an orthotic device that fits into a shoe, for general or sporting wear.

To be successful, orthoses should be constructed specifically for the individual, usually from plaster impressions of the feet.

Orthoses are not only useful for sports people, they can also assist an abnormal gait or foot deformities that may develop later in life.

STEP INTO THE FUTURE

With the range of problems your feet may experience in a lifetime, proper care and attention will assist you in maintaining pain-free mobility.

Your Podiatrist will be happy to advise you on your specific foot care needs.

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