When it comes to maintaining one’s health, rarely do people think about their feet. Interestingly, our feet make up for 25% of our bones and 6% of our muscles, meaning they’re one of the most important body parts around. We use our feet to complete daily tasks and perform several different activities, which is why it’s important to keep them healthy at all times.
No one is better at managing the health of our feet than podiatrists. A podiatrist is a medical specialist that addresses many foot problems. They’re responsible for diagnosing and treating foot conditions like heel spurs, ingrown toenails, bunions, and more. Ideally, you should visit a podiatrist every 3 to 6 months like ACT Podiatry to prevent foot ailments from developing.
Today we’ll be discussing who podiatrists are and why you should pay them a visit to keep your feet healthy and pain-free.
Who are podiatrists?
Podiatrists are foot experts who work in hospitals, nursing homes, private practices, and even sports medicine practices. Aside from treating common foot ailments, they can also treat arthritic and diabetic patients who need to have their toenails cut correctly. They specialize in many different areas like sports medicine, gerontology, biomechanics, and other fields where foot care is of utmost importance.
Some of the most common foot problems podiatrists treat are:
- ingrown toenails
- nail infections
- foot infections
- hammer toes
- heel pain
Podiatrists can also prescribe and provide orthotic inserts to treat a variety of foot, leg, or back problems. These inserts offer extra support for the patient while walking to help reduce discomfort and promote healthier feet. If the patient has suffered a foot injury due to sports-related activities, the podiatrist can treat the injury to monitor their condition throughout the healing process.
In order to become a podiatrist, students must complete a four-year course of Bachelor of Science/Master of Podiatric Practice or a four-year course of Bachelor of Podiatry. These courses are full-time and include both practical and theoretical lessons that are partnered with clinical experience. Once they become qualified podiatrists, they register with the podiatry board in the state they’re interested in working in.
People who are fascinated by the feet’s biomechanics and the vast medical foot conditions can pursue a very rewarding career as a podiatrist. New graduates in Australia can start earning $50,000 annually while more experienced podiatrists can earn up to $90,000 – $100,000 per year.
Why see a podiatrist?
Having certain health conditions can pose a much higher risk of foot problems in some individuals. People who are obese, have diabetes, high cholesterol, poor blood circulation, and heart disease are more likely to develop foot ailments compared to individuals with no medical history of these conditions.
If you have any of the aforementioned conditions, it’s always a good idea to visit a podiatrist to monitor the condition of your feet and prevent serious ailments from arising. Your GP or doctor can examine your foot and find out if there are any areas of concern. Typically, you’ll be undergoing tests to determine the condition of your feet such as:
- nail swabs
- MRI scans
- blood tests
Other health conditions that may warrant a visit to the podiatrist include:
- Nail infections – Nail infections can sometimes be caused by an underlying health condition. A podiatrist can help treat nail infections by prescribing anti-fungal medication and reduce foot pain.
- Arthritis and gout – Both arthritis and gout can cause pain in your toes and feet. If left untreated, the pain may progressively worsen and lead to swelling. A podiatrist can treat patients with arthritis and gout to correct joint damage and block uric acid production.
- Flat feet – People with flat feet may need to wear orthotics such as arch supports or foot braces to support weak or injured foot ligaments. The podiatrist will create a mold from your feet and make custom support braces to prevent the arch of the foot from collapsing.
- Knee and ankle problems – Any recurring knee and ankle problems should be addressed by a podiatrist. They can help treat the cause of knee and ankle issues and suggest physical therapy to strengthen both the joints and muscles in these areas.
When to see a podiatrist
The foot is a complex body part made up of many joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These parts work harmoniously to support the body’s weight and assist in running, walking, and other day-to-day movements. Even if you aren’t experiencing foot pain, it’s a good idea to see a podiatrist at least twice a year to monitor the health of your feet.
If you’re experiencing any of the following conditions, consider seeing a podiatrist as soon as possible:
- Persistent pain and swelling
- Open wounds and infections that won’t heal
- Soreness or tenderness in areas of the foot
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Pain and discomfort while walking
Podiatrists play an important role in managing the health of our feet. They are responsible for treating a wide array of foot ailments and help improve our quality of life. A podiatrist can recommend the best treatment plan for you to address your foot ailments and keep your feet healthy for years to come. Seeing a podiatrist regularly can help prevent foot, toe, and nail problems from developing so make sure to schedule a visit to your nearest podiatry clinic.
About The Author:
Daniel Lummis, Marketing Consultant for ACT Podiatry. ACT Podiatry is a clinic based in Canberra Australia looking after the health and well-being of foot and ankle care. The doctors at ACT Podiatry provide quality care with over 20 years of experience as podiatrists.