Podiatry – What Does It Offer?

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The words ‘podiatry’ and ‘podiatrist’ are not part of any common conversation, and accordingly, most people might not even be aware of the existence of such a word. The word ‘podiatry’ refers to a specific medical practice that deals with the foot, the ankle and the lowermost regions of the leg, whilst a ‘podiatrist’ is a practitioner of the field. Accordingly, podiatrists are specialists with regards to foot and leg ailments – but, it is not necessary to have a referral from a general practitioner to visit the right one. In fact, a foot injury that might seem severe enough can be directly referred to a podiatrist – and injuries are not the only ailment that a podiatrist is adept at curing. In fact, the following come under the purview of a podiatrist: 

  • General ailments – these include the common foot injuries, as well as conditions such as ingrown toe nails and discolorations or other issues with toenails, fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, warts, calluses and other forms of swelling, etc.
    • Leg and foot-related disorders – there are several disorders that are uniquely associated with the leg or foot, such as plantar fasciitis, the heel pad syndrome and varieties of arthritis. Podiatrists are specially trained to assess the severity of these conditions and to prescribe medications and forms of relief, such as orthotics for plantar fasciitis.
      • Biomechanical assessments – biomechanical assessments can be basically defined as a ‘general check-up’. These include assessments, diagnosing and testing of the foot and leg for any potential problems and issues; the assessments are also useful in the creation of custom orthotics. Biomechanical assessments today are essentially linked to technology in that assessments are performed through 3D analysis of standing postures, movements, etc. to analyse any underlying issues that might not be visible at first glance.
        • Diabetes assessments – as diabetes can affect the entire body, podiatrists also are involved in the assessment of diabetes-related complications with regards to legs and feet. Diabetes assessments include testing to identify sensation and blood circulation, as well as to ensure that there are no abnormalities seen in toenails or the like. These assessments are regularly performed – at least once or twice a year.
          Podiatrists can help with identifying the above-described issues with leg and feet; they also prescribe treatments and medications as well as providing rehabilitation regimes. The treatments can include what is known as ‘orthotics’ or ‘semi-orthotics’ – artificial devices meant to provide pain relief due to any abnormalities that cause pain when standing, walking, running, etc. Surgeries are also included, as in the case of ingrown toe nails, and more serious foot injuries.