what is a podiatrist

Step Podiatry

We are Cardiff podiatrists providing high quality foot care.​

What Is A Podiatrist: What Does A Podiatrist Do?

People don’t often think about their feet, but they are an important part of our body. Your feet support your entire body and help you walk, run and dance. In fact, the soles of your feet contain over 250 separate muscles that work together to make walking comfortable. This article will explore what a podiatrist does and explain why it’s important to have regular foot care from a podiatrist.

What Is A Podiatrist?

podiatrist treating feet

Podiatrists are medical doctors who focus on diseases and injuries of the feet as a healthcare professional. They are medical specialists who are specially trained to evaluate, diagnose and treat foot problems. Podiatrists can be either foot and ankle specialists or general physicians. Foot and ankle specialists focus almost exclusively on foot deformities while generalists can care for a wider range of medical conditions. A podiatric surgeon deals with a wide range of problems with the feet , the most common issues are sports injuries, ingrown toe nails, diabetic foot ulcers, infected toenail , wound care and rheumatoid arthritis.

What Does A Podiatrist Do?

podiatrist treating feet

When a podiatrist is able to properly diagnose and provide treatment for foot disorders and injuries, they can help you have a pain-free, healthy lifestyle. Podiatrists often preform imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI’s and ultrasounds to help identify foot- related injuries and conditions. Podiatrists also often preform foot exams to check for diseases such as diabetes, bunion, Morton’s Neuroma and ingrown toenails. They may also recommend orthotics and footwear to help manage foot conditions. Podiatrists may also treat some foot conditions using medications, surgery, or a combination of the two.

What Is The Difference Between A Chiropodist And A Podiatrist?

There is no clear difference between a chiropodist and a podiatric surgeon. They are simply just different names for the same job, a chiropodist and podiatrist both deal with injuries and issues regarding the feet and lower ankles. The term chiropodist is used mostly in the UK whereas podiatrist is used on an international scale. 

Types of Podiatrist Care

Podiatry services can provide a number of different types of care for your feet. 

Nail Surgery- 

This is a common treatment that podiatrists provide if you are dealing with painful ingrowing toenails, wide nails or a fungal infection. The surgery for this usually lasts about 20 minutes where the foot doctors will remove a part of the infected or ingrowing toenail(in more serious cases it may be the whole toenail) under a local anaesthetic. After the surgery, there would be a chemical applied to help avoid regrowth completely

Verruca Treatments-  

A foot specialist will be able to do a full verruca assessment on the feet to see the severity of the condition. There are many over-the-counter treatments that can be used to battle verrucas that would be recommended by a podiatry association, such as salicylic acid. A treatment called cryotherapy can be preformed where the verruca can be frozen using liquid nitrogen, as a result, the verruca would fall off. This type of treatment has to be repeated numerous times for the verruca to eventually fall off.

Foot Orthotics-

Surgery may be required in severe cases for flat feet, however, podiatrists usually recommend over-the-counter orthotic devices which relieve the pain caused by flat feet by arching the foot naturally, this is not a cure, however there will be a noticeable difference in the discomfort caused by flatfeet. The surgery for flat feet can also help with a tendon tear. 

Diabetic Foot Assessments-

Podiatrists have the best skill and knowledge when it comes to problems with diabetic feet. There will typically be a thorough and accurate assessment of the foot to determine whether there is a risk of diabetes and to check the blood supply. Podiatry physicians will also check to see if there are any changes that need to be implemented when it comes to footwear and general foot health. After that, they will offer the best strategies and advice to keep your feet healthy and well looked after. They may even offer some chiropractic medicine if it is necessary. 

Biomechanical Assessments-

If you are experiencing a constant pain or ache in your feet, then podiatrists can diagnose the causes of the foot pain and then use numerous treatment plans to help. A thorough investigation would take place of the lower limbs, where they would try and identify the ultimate cause of the foot pain, this could be anything including arthritis or accident injuries. After this, there would be a recommendation on exercises that will increase the mobility of the foot or advice for more suitable footwear if that seems to be the underlying issue.

Foot Health Education-

Podiatrists are doctors so they have to attend medical school, however, they attend their own medical school that is solely focused on foot treatment. This is where they learn how to properly help broken bones, order lab tests/X-rays, how to diagnose problems to do with the feet and how to perform surgery, as well as study the types of injuries associated with the problem.

How To Find a Good Podiatrist

Choosing a podiatrist can be a difficult process, especially if you have never visited a podiatrist before. You may not be sure what questions to ask or what factors to consider when choosing a podiatrist. To help you find a good podiatrist, we’ve outlined some important factors to keep in mind. –

Experience – Podiatrists who have experience treating your type of foot problem are more likely to be successful at treating your condition, so make sure you do research on the clinic, and perhaps ask doctors or friends for recommendations for a good podiatrist.

Patient Advisory Board– It is extremely important to see a podiatrist who takes into account your wants and needs, having good communication is essential to getting the right treatment.  

Assessment Appointment-

medical appointment

If you have never been to a podiatrist clinic before and its your first time attending an appointment, you may be wondering what to expect. At our Step Podiatry clinic located in Cardiff, you will start off by being greeted by our receptionist, where you will have to complete a consultation form, which involves information regarding any medical conditions or concerns. As well as basic information such as your address and GP. A thorough neurovascular assessment will then be undertaken with the use of the Ultrasound Doppler, this will check the blood flow that’s being provided to your feet. After completion of the assessment, there will be a full treatment plan put in place based on the information obtained from the consultation form and the assessment. Altogether, the first appointment is usually longer than others and lasts approximately 45 minutes.

Final Words

Your feet are an important part of your body. If you notice any pain or discomfort in your feet, you should see a podiatrist right away to rule out a serious foot problem. A podiatrist can provide many types of foot care, from treating foot injuries to improving foot health and reducing foot pain. Podiatrists can also refer you to other specialists if your care requires more advanced or specialised treatment. To get the most out of your visit, it’s a good idea to brush up on your foot anatomy and take the time to familiarise yourself with feet.

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