Podiatry has become one of the fastest growing allied health professions with more Australians relying on regular foot treatment than ever.
So what is a podiatrist and what exactly do they do?
Podiatrists are lower limb experts who are university trained to prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate medical and surgical conditions of the feet and lower limbs.
Often these conditions stem from other underlying health issues such as diabetes and arthritis.
However, podiatrists also manage a large amount of acute/sports injuries like ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, patellofemoral joint syndrome and much more.
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Podiatrists are all around you and they work in both public health centres and private practice clinics.
They're trained to see the bigger picture that surrounds your overall health and to see where your feet fit into this. Without the need for a GP referral, anyone is able to see a podiatrist.
Podiatrists can also connect you into other allied health professionals and specialists, to work in a team for the best outcome.
Your feet house a quarter of the bones in the entire body - in addition to many more various muscles, tendons, 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 and back.
They understand the structure and movement of the foot and lower limbs and they identify systemic overall health conditions that present with foot or lower limb symptoms and recommend appropriate treatment plans.
You may be experiencing pain in your feet, ingrown or discoloured skin/nails, corns, skin rashes, swelling, foot odour, foot injuries or broader health problems such as diabetes and arthritis.
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, it is important that you visit a podiatrist if you suffer from painful or tired feet and/or lower limbs.
Maintaining good foot health and seeking early diagnosis and treatment for foot issues through podiatric care can lead to better health outcomes and reduce the impact of non-communicable diseases like diabetes or heart disease.
- Information provided by the Australian Podiatry Association. For more information or to find a podiatrist near you, visit: podiatry.org.au.