Who are Podiatrists?

Podiatrists are professionals who have been qualified to practice podiatry, also known as podiatric medicine or chiropody. The practice of podiatry is relatively new, having been first developed in the United States in the early 20th Century. In this article we look at what podiatrists do in their practice, and how their work can benefit anyone suffering from ailments of the foot and lower limb.

What do podiatrists do?

Podiatrists specialise in treating afflictions of the foot and ankle, and these issues include everyday problems caused by the fact that we rely on our feet for our day to day mobility. Whether you walk, run, cycle, or play a sport, your feet are subject to a lot of use, and over time this can take its toll. A podiatrist is trained to deal with all manner of conditions including fungal infections, corns, calluses, bunions, ingrown toenails, and even flat feet.

A podiatrist possesses expert knowledge regarding these and many other potential afflictions of the feet, and if you are in pain or are seeing something unusual about your feet, they can give you an accurate diagnosis.

Podiatrists can offer orthotic insoles, a bespoke support system fit into the inside of a shoe to provide support for people suffering from arch or heel pain. Orthotics are a powerful tool that can realign a foot that has some anatomical abnormality like a collapsed arch, relieving pain and stopping the development of knee and gait problems.

Podiatrists can also offer general foot care for people who don’t suffer from a direct foot problem as such. A podiatrist can provide a general maintenance service for your feet, including a check to make sure that your shoes suit your feet and don’t cause any problems in the long run.

Podiatrists in the UK are regulated by The Health and Care Professions Council and other authorities like The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists, which maintains standards and provide licenses to appropriately qualified podiatrists.

Where can I see a podiatrist?

Podiatry is available on the NHS through a GP referral.  Your GP will need to take a look at your feet and decide whether or not you would benefit from podiatric care. If you would, then the referral will be made, and although it varies from region to region, chances are you will be able to see an NHS podiatrist who will be experienced and qualified to a high standard. The NHS prioritises some patients when it comes to podiatric care, and these are usually people with circulation or joint problems who would benefit from a session with a podiatrist.

Home podiatric services are available both on the NHS and privately for people who have serious mobility issues. In these cases a visit from a podiatrist can be arranged to ensure that you receive the care you need.

Private podiatric practices are available across the country, and the caveat to these is that you will be required to pay for the service. However private podiatric care is readily provided to anyone who wants to arrange an appointment, or through a GP referral if you prefer (although you will still have to pay). The Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists lists registered practices on their website, and offer an on-line tool to help you find your nearest clinic.

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