There aren’t many health problems more debilitating and painful than issues with the feet, but fortunately for anybody with ailments such as verrucas, corns, calluses, athletes foot, bunions and any other variety of problems, there is a healthcare professional you can turn to who will get you on your feet again.
The name of these professionals? Podiatrists otherwise known as chiropodists
What is Podiatry?
Whether it’s the result of a sports injury, general wear and tear, a health problem such as diabetes or more, podiatry is the method of preventing, diagnosing, treating and rehabilitating anybody with abnormal conditions of the feet. This also includes the lower limbs, heels and ankles. Podiatrist London clinics are trained to keep you mobile, active and free from any painful ailments in the foot area.
What’s the Difference Between a Podiatrist and a Chiropodist?
General Foot Checkup
There is a lot of confusion as to what the difference in the professions of podiatrists and chiropodists. The truth of this one is simple: There isn’t one.
The reason behind the confusion is that foot doctors and healthcare professionals refer to themselves as both, yet podiatry is the more modern name for the treatments and profession that they fellow. The confusion stems from the fact that the United States changed the name in the 1960s because the ancient word ‘chiropodist’ was being confused with the word ‘chiropractor’ (an English word, and a doctor who deals with bad backs and injuries to that area).
Foot specialists began to search for an new name, and they settled on podiatry, and podiatrist as the profession. However, because some professionals and countries decided to keep the name, there are still a lot of both podiatrists and chiropodists working today. As long as you book in for a foot treatment with a chiropodist and not a chiropractor, you should be OK.
What do Podiatrists Treat?
Podiatrists treat all manner of difference ailments to the foot region, including the following:
Swollen Foot with Chronic Pain
- Toenail problems, such as thickened, fungal or ingrown toenails
- Corns and calluses
- Athlete’s foot
- Smelly feet
- Dry and cracked heels
- Flat feet (including arch issues)
- Heel pain (often from wearing high-heeled dress shoes)
- Ageing feet
- Sports injuries
This list shows the wide-ranging number of foot problems that podiatrists are trained to deal with every day. Regardless of what your issue is, podiatrists can treat the issue by using a range of methods, including performing reconstructive and keyhole surgeries on issues such as bunions and corns, performing medical examinations and searching medical histories to see patterns and any hereditary issues in your family history.
In regards to sport injuries, podiatrists can set fractures, fit prosthetics and casts, perform physical therapy and much more. If a patient has a foot problem, podiatry can solve it.
Common Foot Diseases (and the Symptoms and Risks)
Many people know the types of common foot diseases (and some have been mentioned above) and before you need to head to a foot doctor for podiatry surgery or treatment, it’s good to know what the most common ones are, how to spot the symptoms, and to know the risks that come with obtaining some of these diseases. It’s important to know that all of these treatments are curable, and that a good podiatrist may get rid of them in one single visit.
Verrucas and Warts
Usually caught from person-to-person contact and common in school children sharing facilities with other students, and with people who use changing rooms within gyms and swimming baths, verrucas and warts are a virus that grows on the bottom of the foot and can grow to significant sizes if left untreated.
Look for an area of the foot that has a small lump of hard skin (in the case of warts). The skin around verrucas is often white and have the appearance of little black dots in the centre. They can be prevented by wearing flip-flops around swimming pools and in changing rooms, and if you acquire either, they must be covered when visiting areas where people are barefoot as there is a risk of spreading them.
Foot Corn Condition
Calluses are large areas of thickened skin that form as a result of excess friction and force. Often seen in people who do a lot of sport and put their feet through their paces on a regular basis, calluses are in fact your bodies way of protecting damaged feet. The hard, dead skin is yellow and will be noticeable as soon as it begins to form. It can be treated by moisturising your feet on a regular basis, or with treatment that involves scraping the skin away with a scalpel, which is painless due to the skin forming the callus being dead.
With its recognisable and sport related name, you would be excused for thinking that only athletes are prone to getting this one. Unfortunately that isn’t true. Athlete’s foot is a fungal infection that is often spread via changing room floors and is highly contagious. It can also be painful, particularly if it grows between the toes, which is where it often breeds.
You can prevent athlete’s foot by making sure your feet don’t get too hot. This involves wearing appropriate footwear, changing your socks regularly and wearing thinner socks if you are prone to sweating through your feet, and making sure your feet get plenty of ventilation.
With all of these foot diseases, it’s good to understand that there are risks to getting them. These include poor mobility, pain and discomfort, and an ability to wear the shoes that you would like to wear due to all of these risks making it too painful to do so.
Types of Services and Treatments One can get at Podiatrist Clinics
Now that you know the types of diseases and ailments that can affect your feet, you can begin to appreciate the services and treatments that are available at all patients who wish to visit podiatrist clinics. Your visit will consist of a thorough consultation, where you can ask the podiatrist plenty of questions if you have any worries, and pick their brain for expert advice. This usually takes between 20-30 minutes.
Following the assessment, your doctor will have established what the problem is and give you a breakdown of the condition of the problem area, and what can be done to put it right. This evaluation could be done in a number of ways, including checking over your footwear to see if this is the main cause of the problem, checking the pulse in that area and making sure that joint movement is fine in the areas it should be.
Once the root of the foot problem has been found and discussed with the patient, the podiatrist will recommend a treatment or service that will eradicate the problem for the patient, and allow them to take steps towards living a life without painful issues with their feet.
The types of treatments you can get at podiatrist clinics include:
Biomechanical Analysis of Foot
- Scalpel treatment for nails, corns and calluses
- Biomechanical analysis – All of the ailments discussed could be the result of poor alignment or abnormalities that you may not be aware of. Your podiatrist can use Computerised Video Gait Analysis (VGA) to assess how you walk, and can be used as an educational tool for patients to understand their abnormalities.
- Shock Wave Therapy – If you have soft tissue injuries, heel pain and any other forms of muscle or ligament injuries, shock wave therapy is used to send high energy acoustic waves to the problem areas to create metabolic activity which stimulates the healing mechanisms in the body.
- Laser Treatment – This is predominately used for fungal nails, and is incredibly fast and effective. It is also a painless treatment, despite the scary sounding name.
Why is Foot Care Necessary?
In everyday life, many things are taken for granted, and feet are often the part of the body that is neglected. We expect them to carry on regardless, take us from A to B and put up with everything we do on a daily basis. However, unless you take good care of you feet – both at home and at work – you could find yourself with a number of the issues discussed throughout, and have to visit professional podiatrists in order to put them right.
In order to take care of your feet at home, follow these simple steps:
- Give your feet plenty of air, particularly at home. Socks and shoes (especially ill-fitting and poorly ventilated ones) will cause you a lot of trouble in the foot area if you don’t choose wisely and let your feet breathe from time to time
- Check your feet on a daily basis – This will help you find smaller issues such as blisters, and be able to prevent larger foot health issues arise such as calluses and bunions
- Wash your feet in warm (not hot) water every day, and dry them thoroughly. A number of issues – including athlete’s foot – can arise when feet are left damp
- Trim your toenails often – When toenails grow too long, they can often result in cuts to the neighbouring toes, which can then turn infected. Use a nail file to keep them rounded and not sharp.
- Use a pumice stone for corns and calluses – Before they get too big that you have to turn to a podiatrist, give your rough feet some DIY tender loving care by filing away the rough, dead skin with a pumice stone.
If you suffer from diabetes, it is even more important that you take care of your feet on a daily basis. Diabetics suffer from reduced blood flow to the feet, and often suffer from ulcerations and calluses as a result, which can be dangerous and prone to further infection if there are any wounds underneath the build up on dead skin.