A podiatrist is a health professional concerned with treating ailments of the feet and lower limbs (although some still refer to them by the outdated term, chiropodist – which is still in common use in the UK).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.
It comes as no surprise then that if you have problems with your feet – eg an ingrown toenail, corns and calluses, or a sprained ankle – a trip to your local podiatry clinic is a good idea.
However, you may be surprised by these three more unusual reasons to see a podiatrist:
1 – Back Problems
Our bodies are made up of a complex network of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. No one body part works in isolation; which is why if you suffer from back pain, a podiatrist – somebody who can diagnose and treat conditions affecting your feet – may be able to help.
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 backaches.
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:
- Diabetes can damage 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, increasing the risk of infection and serious problems.
For these two 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 reduce your risk of injury.
Although problems with your toes, feet and ankles are the most common reasons to see a podiatrist, this article details some of the more unexpected ones.
At our Redlands podiatry clinic, we treat each patient as a whole person, rather than just a foot! Call for an appointment on 3207 4736 or book a Redlands podiatrist online now.