Allied health professionals with a degree in podiatry are known as podiatrists.
“Podiatrists are university educated health care professionals specialising in the prevention, diagnoses, treatment and rehabilitation of disorders, medical and surgical, of the feet and lower limbs” (Podiatry Association of South Australia).
They are specialised in devising therapeutic care plans to treat disorders of the lower limbs that are often painful and debilitating, while ensuring mobility and independence is retained, significantly improving people’s quality of life.
Podiatrists are necessary as the foot is a highly complex structure, consisting of numerous bones, joints, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, muscles and associated tendons. Damage to any of these structures can develop problems affecting a patient’s overall health and well being.
Podiatrists work in a range of clinical settings including public hospitals or government agencies, private practices, medical clinics, community health centres, sports clinics and aged care facilities.
They are important primary health care professionals, as the foot may be the first area to show signs of other serious conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease. If a podiatrist detects any signs in the feet that may indicate other conditions they can refer you to the appropriate health practitioners.
In addition to general foot care, a podiatrist is qualified to treat specific lower limb foot conditions. These may include the areas of:
- Foot pain (generalised or specific in nature).
- Diabetes foot assessments and associated complications.
- Nail and foot care (i.e. corns, callus, warts, fungal nails, cracked heels and ingrown toenails).
- Paediatric podiatry (Children’s feet).
- Sports injuries and rehabilitation.
- Skin conditions.
A podiatrist can also assist you with selecting appropriate footwear, training, exercise and stretching programs to get you back on your feet!