Podiatry is the medical specialism that identifies & manages disorders of the feet & lower limb. And just like other medical professions (Doctors, Dentists, Physiotherapists & Optometrists), Podiatrists have to be degree qualified & professionally registered to be able to practice.
Podiatry – but isn’t that the same as Chiropody?
One thing that many people get confused about is the difference between Podiatry & Chiropody. The simple answer is that Chiropody is an outdated profession ‘label’ (Think about how we now refer to Chemists as Pharmacists). A more complex answer would be that Podiatry has evolved from Chiropody into an internationally recognised, evidence-based medical profession that diagnoses & treats a wide range of foot & lower-limb related conditions.
But do you cut toenails?
The answer to that question is yes, we do cut toenails (why wouldn’t we – it is an essential part of Professional Foot Maintenance). But just like Dentistry is much more than polishing teeth, there is so much more to Podiatry than just cutting toenails.
The primary skillset of a Podiatrist lies in their ability to diagnose problems that affect the foot & lower leg. These may range from something common & straightforward, like a corn, a callus or a verruca, to something a little more obscure or sinister, like a painful nerve compression, an overuse injury or even a potential malignancy. In addition Podiatrists are also trained to notice serious clinical lower emergencies, such as blockages in the blood vessels, such as Deep Vein Thrombosis or Arterial Ischaemia.
And once they have identified what a problem is, a Podiatrist can then advise a patient on what can be done about it. Sometimes all that is required is straightforward advice, or a course of simple, in-house treatments. Occasionally they may need to refer on to a medical colleague, such as a GP, or Podiatric Surgeon, for their professional opinion.
The final role of the Podiatrist can be best described as monitoring. Sadly as we advance in years our bodies do change. Circulation to the feet is often impaired making the skin particularly vulnerable & fragile. Nerve function can also reduce, altering our balance, what we feel & often the physical structure of the foot. To compound this, many folk have serious medical conditions that can affect the feet quite severely – Diabetes, Peripheral Arterial Disease & Rheumatoid Arthritis for example. Therefore, although they may not be able to cure serious problems, Podiatrists are well placed to just keep an eye out for any complications that may arise.
As you can see there is more to Podiatry that just cutting toenails. If you have any concerns with your feet, feel free to contact us on: 01189 67 58 53 for an appointment.