Did you know that this week is the annual 2018 Foot Health Week?
Australian Podiatry Association runs Foot Health Week, an annual campaign to promote foot health and encourage better health outcomes for all Australians.
To get you started, what is podiatry and what does podiatrist do?
Podiatrists are foot health experts who are university-trained to prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate medical and surgical conditions of the feet and lower limbs. The conditions podiatrists treat include those resulting from bone and joint disorders such as arthritis and soft-tissue and muscular pathologies, as well as neurological and circulatory disease. Podiatrists are also able to diagnose and treat any complications of the above which affect the lower limb, including skin and nail disorders, corns, calluses and ingrown toenails. Foot injuries and infections gained through sport or other activities are also diagnosed and treated by podiatrists.
A range of skills are employed by podiatrists. Direct consultations include a clinical history composition, physical examination, diagnosis, preparation of a treatment plan and provision of a range of therapies. Clinical assessment techniques aim to secure a diagnosis and prognosis and take into account clinical, medical and surgical history, footwear, occupational and lifestyle factors, and may incorporate the use of diagnostic equipment such as vascularscopes or radiology. Gait analysis will often be undertaken through visual or computerised means and might include range of motion studies, postural alignment evaluation or dynamic force and pressure studies.
Clinical services require skilled use of sterilised instruments and appropriate infection control procedures, along with appropriate application of pharmacological agents, specialist wound dressings and a variety of physical therapies. Prescription foot orthoses (in-shoe devices) offer permanent solutions in the treatment and prevention of corns, calluses and necrotic ulceration in their capacity to provide pressure redistribution. As a technique for providing consistent weightbearing realignment they are utilised in the treatment of acute and chronic foot conditions such as heel pain, tendonitis, recurrent ankle sprain, chronic knee pain and stress fractures, to supplement and enhance clinical care.
When to see a Podiatrist
Why do people see podiatrists?
Your feet house a quarter of the bones in our entire bodies – in addition to various muscles, ligaments and joints. This makes them extremely vulnerable to injury and diseases that can affect the entire body.
A podiatrist will not just look at your foot, but they will carry out a biomechanical assessment to see how your gait can be impacting other parts of your body, such as your hips. (Your gait is the way you walk.)
Podiatrists fully understand the structure and movement of the foot and lower limbs. They are able to diagnose foot conditions, identify systemic overall health conditions that present with foot or lower limb symptoms – and recommend appropriate treatment plans.
When should you see a podiatrist?
You may be experiencing pain in your feet, ingrown or discoloured skin/nails, corns, skin rashes, foot odour, foot injuries, broader health problems such as diabetes or arthritis, recurrent tripping or falling, problems fitting comfortably in your regular shoes; or if you notice swelling, lumps, or redness on your feet or legs.
It is a common misconception that painful feet are a normal side effect from everyday activities. Yet research shows that only a fraction of individuals suffering from sore feet seek out professional advice.
Just as you would visit your dentist for a toothache, you should visit a podiatrist if you suffer from painful or tired feet and/or lower limbs.
Do you think you may need to see a podiatrist? Here is a easy checklist for you.
- Have painful feet?
- Experience leg pain?
- Have painful knees?
- Experience sore hips?
- Find walking or standing uncomfortable?
- Experience leg or foot pain during sport?
- Need advice on correct footwear?
Ticked one or more boxes? Then you need to see a podiatrist.