Why and when would I need to see a podiatrist or chiropodist?

Podiatry and chiropody are two names for the same practice which deals specifically with the treatment of ailments of the feet. The foot and ankle are critical structures with important roles in maintaining healthy mobility and quality of life. While most of us will face day to day problems with our feet like corns and blisters, other people can suffer more serious complications with far reaching consequences. In this article we look at some of the reasons why a person would need to see a podiatrist or chiropodist.

When do I need to see a podiatrist?

Podiatric care addresses problems of the foot and ankle, but issues around these two extremely important structures can sometimes affect other parts of the body, particularly the knees and hip. Problems with the architecture of the foot can disrupt a person’s gait, causing referred pain to the knee and hip, sometimes without any noticeable discomfort in the foot. You should always try and see a podiatrist when you are experiencing consistent, chronic pain, and before the situation worsens.

Many people go to their GP first, this is an advisable first step as it can address the question of whether or not your problems are caused by foot issues or some other underlying condition. Your GP should also be able to refer you to an NHS podiatrist if necessary.

Why do I need to see a podiatrist?

There are a number of different reasons that could warrant a visit to the podiatrist, and these include corns, blisters, calluses, infections, flat footedness, and a variety of other afflictions of the foot that can easily remedied through expert podiatric care.

People with abnormal foot architecture or deformities can benefit from podiatric attention, particularly as in the long term these conditions can disrupt gait and cause chronic, referred pain, particularly to the knee. Podiatrists can provide and fit specialist shoes and orthotics (supporting in-soles) to remedy abnormalities in the structure of the foot.

Diabetics are one group of people who can really benefit from podiatric care. Foot care is an important but often understated part of diabetes management. The condition can cause very poor circulation and nerve damage to the foot, rendering the lower limb more susceptible to injury and infection. Through regular podiatric attention diabetic feet can be closely observed for signs of any causes for concern, and a person’s foot can be maintained so as not to cause them pain or discomfort. In the absence of proper foot care, many diabetics may have to ensure amputation if complications from lack of care arise.

If you have a child suffering from problems of the foot then a specialist podopaediatrician can offer them support and attention. Children, particularly those at younger ages, can find it difficult to articulate any pain or unpleasantness they might be experiencing in the lower limb, and through specialist training, a podopaediatrician can assess the foot and issues associated with it and provide your child with any treatment they need. Remember that if left unattended, foot and ankle problems can cause long lasting pain and problems with general movement.

There are many different conditions which can benefit from podiatric care. Generally speaking, if you suffer from pain in your lower limb, particularly pain that is referred up to your knee or hip, you should consider going to see either your GP or a podiatrist. Ultimately it is  better to err on the side of caution and prevent any further complications arising, particularly if you suffer from a condition prone to foot complications like diabetes.

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