Our feet play a crucial role in our daily lives, providing us with mobility and allowing us to engage in various activities. However, foot problems can arise, affecting our overall well-being and quality of life. That’s where podiatrists come in. Podiatry is a specialized field of medicine focused on diagnosing, treating, and preventing conditions related to the feet and ankles. In this blog, we will explore four compelling reasons why you should consider seeing a podiatrist to ensure optimal foot health.
Expertise and Specialisation
- Biomechanical Podiatrist: Podiatrists conduct comprehensive assessments of the feet and ankle in sports patients. This is to increase performance, reduce risk of injury and get advice on footwear and possible footwear modification if and when needed. This can be done with a biomechanical assessment of a patient and understanding the biomechanics involved in whatever sport the patient is involved in. They provide recommendations for proper footwear, exercises, and orthotic devices to improve alignment, reduce pain and help prevent injury
- Diabetic Podiatrists: Diabetes UK estimates that around 5 million people in the UK have Diabetes with around 850,000 people walking about undiagnosed, this presents a huge problem to the health care system. This has increased the need for Podiatrists specialising in Diabetic foot care and education. They play a major role in assessing, treating and managing diabetic foot ulcers, infections, neuropathy, and poor circulation to prevent diabetic-related complications like ulcers and amputations.
- Pediatric Podiatry: Podiatrists specialising in pediatric care address foot and ankle issues in children. They diagnose and treat conditions such as flat feet, in-toeing or out-toeing, and gait abnormalities in young patients.
- Elderly Foot Care: Aging can lead to changes in foot structure and function. Podiatrists who specialise in elderly care address issues such as arthritis, general podiatric care, and foot pain and help to prevent falls/instability in older adults.
- General Podiatrist: Podiatrists diagnose and treat fungal infections (such as athlete’s foot) and other skin conditions affecting the feet and ankles like corns and calluses.
Comprehensive Foot Examinations
- Diagnosis and Treatment: A thorough foot assessment can help identify the underlying causes of foot pain and/ or discomfort. This is important for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment planning. Different foot conditions require different approaches, so understanding the specific issues you’re facing is essential for targeted interventions.
- Patient-specific Care: Everyone has feet but one thing people may not realize is that our feet are unique. This is due to differences in foot structure as a result of different alignments of the bones, muscles and tendons, foot shape, arch type, gait pattern, and any existing foot conditions. Assessing this in each patient allows us as Podiatrists to provide patient-specific advice and targeted treatment tailored to your individual needs. This can allow for early intervention and preventive measures, reducing the risk of developing more serious problems down the line.
- Foot Health Education: Everyone’s feet are different and certain occupations predispose people to different risks. A foot assessment is a great opportunity to learn more about foot health specifically, your foot, and how to take care of your feet daily. Proper foot care, including footwear types, stretching exercises, and hygiene practices, can prevent many common foot problems like fungal infections, corns and calluses. This empowers patients to actively participate in their care and improves patient compliance.
- Sports and Physical Activities: Athletes and active individuals put extra stress on their feet due to the nature of the sport they are involved in. A foot assessment can help identify biomechanical issues or imbalances that could lead to injuries. Proper foot support with insoles and/or orthotics and footwear recommendations can help prevent sports-related foot problems.
- Chronic Conditions: Individuals with chronic conditions such as diabetes need to be especially attentive to foot health. Diabetes can lead to neuropathy (nerve damage) and poor circulation, increasing the risk of foot ulcers and infections. Arthritis can lead to foot deformities and abnormal pressure distribution in the feet leading to claw toes, calluses and foot pain. Visiting a Podiatrist is crucial for the early detection and management of these issues and for maintaining good foot health.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Foot Conditions
- Specialised Expertise: Podiatrists know the lower extremities, i.e. feet and ankles. Their education and training put them at the forefront of knowing and understanding foot problems at a deeper level than any other medical profession. This is why they are also called foot doctors. They know feet best. Some foot conditions present with similar signs and symptoms but have different underlying causes. Podiatrists can differentiate between conditions and accurately diagnose the specific issue affecting a patient. This is done by intensive assessment and examination of the patient thus leading to accurate diagnosis and treatment.
- Comprehensive Assessment: Podiatrists are skilled in conducting full examinations and assessments of the feet and ankles. This involves evaluating the structural alignment from head to toe, understanding gait patterns, and any underlying biomechanical or neurological issues and history of any previous injuries. This is crucial for identifying the root causes of foot problems.
- Effective Treatment Plans: Once a diagnosis is established, podiatrists can develop tailored treatment plans based on the individual’s condition, medical history, and lifestyle. This ensures that the treatment approach addresses the root cause and provides the best possible outcomes. Risk stratification and helping follow-up appointments provide effective treatment thus ensuring appropriate care and guidance for patients.
- Pain Relief and Improved Quality of Life: Foot conditions cause significant pain, discomfort, and limitations in mobility. Podiatrists provide interventions to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and enhance the overall quality of life for their patients. This is particularly important for individuals with risk factors like diabetes, arthritis, or sports-related activities. Visiting a Podiatrist early on can help with the prevention and management of these conditions on time(early on) and help stop the chances of developing foot complications.
- Podiatry levels/grades: Podiatrists are trained to perform various procedures, including both conservative treatments and surgical interventions. Podiatry has specialization in wound, diabetes, sport, Dermatology and paeds and geriatrics. If and when needed, the patients can be sent to a specialised podiatrist for any condition they are presenting with and can also be sent to Podiatric surgeons.
- Working with Other Healthcare Professionals: In cases where foot issues are linked to broader health conditions, such as diabetes or arthritis, podiatrists can work near other medical professionals for holistic treatment. They can also refer patients to other medical professionals to get a better understanding of patients’ problems like X-rays and getting bloodwork done if and when needed.
Prevention and Injury Management
- Education: Podiatrists educate individuals about proper foot care practices, including the importance of choosing appropriate footwear, maintaining foot hygiene, and avoiding activities that could lead to injury.
- Footwear Recommendations: Podiatrists offer advice on selecting footwear that provides proper support, cushioning, and stability. They consider factors such as the individual’s foot shape, activity level, and any specific conditions that require specialized shoes.
- Diabetes Management: Individuals with diabetes are at higher risk of foot injuries due to neuropathy and poor circulation. Podiatrists educate patients on proper foot care, conduct regular check-ups, and offer guidance to prevent diabetic foot ulcers and complications.
- Conservative Treatments: For many foot injuries, surgery isn’t necessary. Podiatrists offer a range of conservative treatments, including rest, immobilization, physical therapy, custom orthotics, and bracing, to facilitate healing.
- Customised Care: Every injury and individual is unique. Podiatrists tailor treatment plans to each patient’s specific needs, taking into consideration factors such as age, activity level, and medical history.
- Pain Management: Foot injuries can cause significant pain. Podiatrists offer pain management strategies such as medications, injections, and modalities like ice or heat therapy.
- Follow-Up and Monitoring: Podiatrists closely monitor the progress of healing, making adjustments to the treatment plan as needed. This ensures that recovery is on track and complications are detected early.
Find out more about how we can help you on your foot health journey, by contacting us here.