A podiatrist is a registered health professional, qualified to treating concerns relating to the feet and lower limbs – although some people may refer to them as a chiropodist, which is the term still commonly used in the UK).
Both “podiatrist” and “chiropodist” come from the Greek word “pod” – meaning “foot” – which forms the basis of our English words tripod, podium and antipodes, etc.
The most common reasons to see a podiatrist include:
- unexplained or unresolved pain in the lower limbs eg heel pain, joint pain, plantar fasciitis,
- problems with an ingrown toenail
- a sprained ankle or other injury affecting the toes, feet or lower limbs
- concerns about the appearance or development – eg flat feet, limb length discrepancy, a bony growth on the heel (heel spur), bow legs, duck toes.
- issues that affect walking and mobility.
- calluses, corns, cracked heels, bunions, plantar warts … pretty much any issue with the toes, feet, ankles, up to your knees.
However, you may be surprised by these three more unusual reasons to see a podiatrist:
1 – Back Problems
If you are experiencing lower back pain, it could be that there is a problem with the structure and function of your feet – which is causing you to walk in a particular way, resulting in additional stress on your back.
As we age, years of poor biomechanics in our feet begin to take their toll and although we may never have had a problem before, all of a sudden we are plagued by backache.
Conversely, if you are suffering from pain and discomfort in your feet, the culprit could very well be a problem in your back! The connective nature of the body means that you are experiencing what is known as “referred pain” – a problem with your back, is causing the symptoms in your feet.
2 – Diabetes
What does the level of glucose in your blood have to do with your feet? And how could a podiatrist possibly help?
When your body has problems with producing and maintaining your glucose levels, it can affect your feet in the following ways:
- Damage to the delicate nerve endings, causing reduced sensation in the feet. Have you ever had a blister develop when wearing a new pair of shoes? Ouch! A person with diabetes however, may not actually feel or even notice the blister. Although this sounds like a good thing, it can be dangerous especially when combined with the second side effect of diabetes, which is …
- Reduced blood flow to the extremities. This means that a blister on your foot will take a lot longer to heal. Together, these two side effects of diabetes increase the risk of infection and serious problems with your lower limbs – and in worst case scenario, amputation may be required.
For these reasons, your doctor will refer you to see a local podiatrist if you are diagnosed with diabetes.
3 – Before you take up running or a new sport
Yes, podiatrists treat injuries and ailments of the feet and lower limbs. Why would you see one before any damage is done?
It all comes back to that old proverb, “prevention is better than cure”.
Running and some sports (eg netball, football) place an incredible amount of force on the feet and lower limbs – a hard surface, speed, and sudden changes in movement and direction can all take their toll.
With 52 bones in your feet, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles – you can see why there is a lot of potential for damage!
Your podiatrist can give you information and advice – from choosing the best running shoes for your needs, to warm up exercises – to help you prevent injury.
If after reading these reasons to see a podiatrist, you want to make an appointment at our Redlands clinic, you can call us on 3207 4736 or try our secure online booking system.