Most of us take our feet for granted. They function as usual and all we need to do is make sure they’re clean and have shoes that fit. That is, until a problem develops.
When one of your feet develops a problem, it may be felt in the entire body. If the issue isn’t treated promptly and correctly, a health problem with your feet can soon lead to gait and other types of health issues. Feet can develop numerous problems. Did you know that human feet have 26 bones, 36 joints and over 100 tendons, ligaments and muscles? With so many bones, joints, and muscles/tendons/ligaments, the human foot can develop any one of over 300 health problems.
Who do you see when something goes wrong with your feet? You’ll need to see a chiropodist or podiatrist. If you’re not sure what chiropodists and podiatrists are, then read on to learn more about these medical professionals.
What is a Chiropodist or Podiatrist?
A chiropodist, also called a podiatrist, is a medical professional who provides advice and treatment for feet, ankles, knees, and hips. A chiropodist is the healthcare professional who can diagnose and treat many types of foot problems.
Chiropodists and podiatrists can work to correct deformities, relieve pain, treat infections and more. Here are some of the conditions a chiropodist is able to treat:
- Ingrown toenails
- Thickened toenails
- Athlete’s foot
- Corns and calluses
- Heel problems (pain or cracked heels)
- Sports injuries
- Flat feet
- Foot odour
- And more
Chiropodists & podiatrists are also able to help with walking/running issues, create orthotics, provide exercises, acupuncture and even offer advice on the types of shoes that are best for your feet.
What’s the Difference Between a Chiropodist & a Podiatrist?
There’s no difference between a chiropodist and a podiatrist. The term “podiatrist” is a more modern term these days. In the past, they were called “chiropodists,” until about 1993, when they were given the new name “podiatrists.”
When it comes to education, qualification and experience, they both have the same requirements. However, it’s important to note they are not doctors. While a chiropodist may be called “surgeon,” they are not medical doctors. For this reason, they’re not able to perform foot surgeries.
Chiropodists & podiatrists are required to have a full-time three- or four-year degree. Then they must be registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) in order to begin treating patients.
All chiropodists & podiatrists are required to take continuing education courses in order to stay up to date with the most recent diagnostic and treatment methods. In fact, they must take a specific number of hours to maintain their practice.
What Do Chiropodists & Podiatrists Treat?
Chiropodists & Podiatrists put the emphasis on prevention and proper foot care and treat health issues of the feet when needed. They’re also able to deal with biomechanical issues and help correct these, even if muscles and joints are not properly functioning or aligned correctly.
In the UK, chiropodists are able to:
- Write prescriptions for certain medications
- Create orthotics
- Use cryotherapy & electrosurgery
- Use ultrasonic devices
- Use specialised dressings
- Prescribe exercise therapy
- Provide advice and guidance, make referrals to other healthcare professionals
What Should I Expect at my Chiropodist or Podiatrist Appointment?
At your first appointment, the chiropodist or Podiatrist will usually asks about your complete medical history. After that is completed, they will ask about any issues you’re having with your feet. Then they will examine your feet and check the feeling and blood circulation in your feet. You may also be asked to walk for the podiatrist, so they can see if your foot issue is impacting other parts of the body including your ankles, knees and hips.
If they find any minor uses with your feet, these will more than likely be treated right then, but only with your permission. The appointment may last from 30 to 60 minutes.
Is the Chiropodist or Podiatrist Appointment Covered by NHS?
At Freedom Care Clinics all Podiatry and Chiropody services are private and are not available through the NHS. However, costs may be reimbursed by private health insurance and cash back policies such as Simply Health, BUPA, AXA PPP, Medicash etc.
Checking to Ensure a Chiropodist or Podiatrist is Qualified
Before seeking the advice and treatment of a chiropodist or podiatrist, you’ll want to make sure they are qualified to provide these services. You can check with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) by doing a search on the site.
Just type in the chiropodist’s surname or registration number, then choose their profession and hit the “search” button. Then you should find their name as registered through this organisation.
You can also check to see if they are a member of a professional organisation including:
- British Chiropody and Podiatry Association
- The College of Podiatry
- The Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists
How Will I Know When to See a Chiropodist or Podiatrist?
You may experience any one of a number of foot problems that may require a visit to the chiropodist. Some of these issues include:
- Toenail issues: this may be caused by an ingrown toenail, which can be extremely painful and become infected. Toenails can also become infected with a fungus.
- Heel pain: which makes it hard to walk, may also need the help of a chiropodist. And if you diabetes, regular visits to the chiropodist can ensure your feet stay healthy and avoid complications caused by diabetes.
- Corns & callouses: these are common foot problems that can also be handled by a chiropodist. They are trained to remove callouses and corns, so you can walk without the discomfort of these underlying health issues.
- Verruca removal: if you develop a verruca issue, then a chiropodist can also remove these from your feet. This type of wart can cause pain and other health issues.
- Flat feet or high arches: if you have these types of issues with your feet, a chiropodist can provide guidance and advice on the type of shoes that will provide the right support for your feet. They can also create custom-made insoles to help you feel more comfortable when walking.
These are a few of the conditions that a chiropodist is able to treat. Basically, if you’re having pain, discomfort, or an infection that involves your toes or feet, then it’s time to see the chiropodist.