A podiatrist is a foot health specialist; a qualified doctor who can diagnose and treat all manner of foot ailments. These can include common foot ailments, such as bunions, hammer toe, claw toe, neuroma and ingrown toenails. Plus, a podiatrist can aid in the recovery of a foot injury such as a sprain or a fracture.
Podiatrists work to diagnose ailments of the foot and provide advice and treatment. As previously mentioned, they provide help with a number of common foot diseases. They care for the whole area of the foot, so whether you have discoloured toenails or sore heels, a podiatrist can help.
Podiatrists can also provide general care for feet, this can include foot hygiene, such as nail trims and hard skin filing. Podiatrists can also advise on the correct shoes to wear to support and protect your feet. Most common foot conditions are caused by ill-fitting shoes, so correcting this is a very important part of a podiatrist’s job.
They can provide you with orthotics, which are special pads that go in the shoe and are designed to alleviate foot pain and provide support to certain areas of the foot.
If you have foot pain but are unsure of what is causing it then a podiatrist will be able to diagnose it for you. They are experts on foot health and will be able to find out what is wrong and prescribe the correct treatment, be it exercises, medication or, in serious cases, surgery. Foot pain can be caused by a number of things; a podiatrist will be able to tell you whether simply changing your footwear or wearing orthotics will help, or whether you have a condition, such as venous insufficiency which requires more specialist treatment.
If you have a foot ailment you may try and wait and see if it gets better, but with any disorder of the foot it is best to see a medical professional as soon as possible in order to establish the condition.
It can be difficult to know whether to see a foot specialist or to just visit your local GP. Your nearest doctor’s surgery will certainly be able to help you with minor foot problems or advice. However, for more severe issues or expert knowledge, it is best to visit a podiatrist. If in doubt, visit your GP and they should advise you if the case is serious enough to warrant a visit to a podiatrist.
Many people believe that podiatry and chiropody are separate specialities and they are often confused about who they should see about their foot pain. However, podiatrists and chiropodists are actually the same thing. Podiatrist is the modern name, which was bought into play in the 90s. Some foot health practitioners still go by chiropodist, but this is just their choice. So, whatever your foot problem, you can visit either a podiatrist or chiropodist and get the same help.
Podiatry treatment is available on the NHS, the benefit of this is that you will not have to pay, but treatment is assessed on an individual basis so you may not qualify. If you wish to receive foot treatment from a podiatrist then, instead of going directly to the foot health practitioner, you should visit your GP. Your doctor will assess whether you qualify for NHS treatment and, if so, will refer you to a podiatrist.
More severe foot ailments get priority, as do people with certain conditions, such as diabetes or arthritis. Both these diseases can cause or worsen foot pain and need to be monitored.
If you wish to go private then you are in luck as there are several private podiatrists throughout the country. You won’t have to wait to be assessed by a GP and can be seen directly, without having to consult a doctor. The drawback to this, as with all private medical care, is that you have to pay. However, depending on the ailment, this can be useful and less stressful than using the NHS.