Celebrating Podiatry Week 2023!
This year’s theme is "Podiatry, More Than You Think".
Podiatry is a medical field that is still not widely understood. Podiatry is a diverse and crucial healthcare discipline that goes beyond just your feet. As we celebrate Podiatry Week in 2023, let's delve into the world of podiatry and discover why it's "more than you think."
Understanding the Role of a Podiatrist Podiatrists are highly trained medical professionals who specialise in the care of the feet, ankles and lower limbs. They undergo extensive tertiary education and clinical training to become experts in lower limb health. Their expertise covers a wide range of areas, including the diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as bunions, ingrown toenails, plantar fasciitis, and diabetic foot complications. They are skilled in biomechanics, which allows them to analyse and address gait abnormalities or foot deformities of all ages.
The Multifaceted Nature of Podiatry
1. Preventive Care: Podiatrists are not just there for when something goes wrong; they play a critical role in preventing foot and ankle issues. They can assess an individual's foot structure, gait, shoe wear patterns and specific needs to recommend suitable shoes. This may be selecting appropriate running shoes to reduce the risk of injury or advising on comfortable yet supportive work shoes.
2. Sports Medicine: Athletes of all levels depend on podiatrists to keep them on their feet. They can diagnose and treat sports-related injuries, such as achilles tendinitis and heel pain, prescribe orthotics, and give recommendations on warm-up routines, stretching exercises, and footwear suitable for specific sports. These help athletes perform while minimizing the risk of foot and ankle injuries.
3. Diabetic Foot Care: Individuals with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing foot and lower leg complications. Podiatrists provide education on foot inspection, foot care routines, and the importance of controlling blood sugar levels. Examinations such as nerve and vascular assessments, including doppler ultrasound checks, and dermatological assessments are vital for early detection of potential risks. Podiatrists are key in helping patients manage and prevent diabetic foot ulcers, neuropathy, and other related issues.
4. Paediatric Podiatry: This is a specialised area of podiatry that focuses on the unique needs and challenges of children's foot and lower limb health. Children's feet are constantly developing. Podiatrists are trained to identify and address developmental concerns such as painful flat feet (pes planus) or high arches (pes cavus). Some conditions, if left unmanaged, can lead to discomfort, pain, or gait abnormalities. Comprehensive gait and lower limb analyses are conducted to identify issues like toe-walking, in-toeing, out-toeing, or other irregularities.
5. Foot Care Practices: Podiatrists are invaluable resources for educating individuals on proper foot care practices. They offer advice and treatment on ingrown toenail surgery, toenail trimming, callus and corn management, wart treatments and overall hygiene. By following these guidelines, individuals can reduce the risk of developing common issues like ingrown toenails or fungal infections.
6. Geriatric Foot Care: As we age, our feet undergo changes. Podiatrists help seniors manage conditions like arthritis and balance problems. There is an increased risk of conditions like peripheral artery disease (PAD) or venous insufficiency and podiatrists can assess and monitor circulatory health in the feet and recommend lifestyle modifications. Podiatrists also address balance issues related to foot and ankle conditions and provide appropriate footwear advice, prescribe orthotics, and exercises to improve stability.
Podiatry Beyond the Feet Podiatrists understand that our body is a complex and interconnected system. Your feet carry the weight of your body when you walk and we know how they can affect your overall body’s mechanics. The health of your feet can have a direct impact on your posture, balance, and even your spine. Moreover, underlying systemic conditions like diabetes, vascular diseases, and arthritis often manifest in the feet first. A podiatrist can sometimes be the first to spot these warning signs and guide you towards appropriate care.