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When it comes to managing health problems associated with the feet, plenty of people choose to go to a general physician. However, in such cases a professional podiatrist is the specialist that is most trained and competent in assessing, diagnosing and treating you. A podiatrist is a professional healthcare specialist who has studied a degree in Podiatry. This is a branch of medicine dedicated to the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the lower limb.
Predominantly, a podiatrist specialises in the foot and ankle but also learns the anatomy up to the hip. Their training includes:
Pharmacology – Administering local anaesthesia (POM-A), and prescribing prescription only medicines (POM-S), which includes a range of antibiotics and analgesics.
Musculoskeletal studies – Involving gait analysis, which assesses the way that you walk and noting any abnormalities. This can usually be addressed with prescription custom orthotics (insoles) and referring to other healthcare specialists such as physiotherapists.
Nail surgery – Performing nail surgery to remove ingrown toenails and preventing them from reoccurring.
In addition to this, they can carry out chiropody and have also completed 1,000 clinical hours within the NHS and private practice before qualifying.
Once registered, podiatrists can specialise in different fields such as diabetic foot, musculoskeletal abnormalities, podopaediatrics (children), and podiatric (foot and ankle) surgery. Podiatrists are specialists trained to manage conditions that affect the lower parts of the body. Due to this reason, it is always good sense to consult a podiatrist if you are having a problem with your feet.
Historically named chiropodists, there is sometimes confusion between the titles chiropodist and podiatrist. Chiropody relates to treatments carried out to the foot using the hand, and podiatry encompases the foot as a whole. In short, all podiatrists are also chiropodists but, not all chiropodists are podiatrists.
Although a general physician can sometimes treat different types of common foot and ankle problems, a specialist should understand them in greater detail and have extensive experience in treatments. Conditions such as hammer toe, bunion, ingrowing toenail, foot ulcer, athlete’s foot, achilles tendonitis, verrucae, corn and callus are commonly seen and treated by podiatrists.
Since they go through several years of professional training in order to practice their medical profession, they are capable of managing complex foot and ankle problems that your general physician may not be comfortable with. There can also be a number of more complex ailments that can affect your foot. In some cases, your foot may have minor abnormalities that you are likely to ignore during the early stages. A specialist podiatrist however, may pick these up early and prevent them from progressing into something more problematic and irreversible.
They can often immediately understand the probable causes for a painful sensation that you might be experiencing. If needed, they can refer you for X-ray, CT, MRI, or ultrasound imaging for further investigation and an accurate diagnosis.
Podiatrists see people of all ages and professions, ranging from the developing child, competitive athletes, the disabled, and the elderly. They can help you with speeding up recovery and getting you back on your feet quickly as well. They can also advise you on taking good care of your feet and wearing suitable footwear.
We rely on our feet every day in getting us around, and a regular visit to see a podiatrist will most likely be a great investment for you, now and in the future.
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Thoughts and advice on foot health care from the Podogo team.