A podiatrist is a foot health specialist; a qualified doctor who can diagnose and treat all manner of foot ailments. These can include common foot ailments, such as bunions, hammertoe, claw toe, neuroma, and ingrown toenails. Plus, a podiatrist can aid in the recovery of a foot injury such as a sprain or a fracture.
What does a podiatrist do?
Podiatrists work to diagnose ailments of the foot and provide advice and treatment. As previously mentioned, they provide help with a number of common foot diseases. They care for the whole area of the foot, so whether you have discolored toenails or sore heels, a podiatrist can help.
Podiatrists can also provide general care for feet, this can include food hygiene, such as nail trims and hard skin filing. Podiatrists can also advise on the correct shoes to wear to support and protect your feet. Most common foot conditions are caused by ill-fitting shoes, so correcting this is a very important part of a podiatrist’s job.
They can provide you with orthotics, which are special pads that go in the shoe and are designed to alleviate foot pain and provide support to certain areas of the foot.
If you have foot pain but are unsure of what is causing it then a podiatrist will be able to diagnose it for you. They are experts on foot health and will be able to find out what is wrong and prescribe the correct treatment, be it exercises, medication, or, in serious cases, surgery.
Foot pain can be caused by a number of things; a podiatrist will be able to tell you whether simply changing your footwear or wearing orthotics will help, or whether you have a condition, such as venous insufficiency which requires more specialist treatment.
When should I see a podiatrist?
If you have a foot ailment you may try and wait and see if it gets better, but with any disorder of the foot it is best to see a medical professional as soon as possible in order to establish the condition.
It can be difficult to know whether to see a foot specialist or to just visit your local GP. Your nearest doctor’s surgery will certainly be able to help you with minor foot problems or advice. However, for more severe issues or expert knowledge, it is best to visit a podiatrist. If in doubt, visit your GP and they should advise you if the case is serious enough to warrant a visit to a podiatrist.
Podiatrist vs Chiropodist?
Many people believe that podiatry and chiropody are separate specialties and they are often confused about who they should see about their foot pain. However, podiatrists and chiropodists are actually the same things.
A podiatrist is a modern name, which was bought into play in the 90s. Some foot health practitioners still go by a chiropodist, but this is just their choice. So, whatever your foot problem, you can visit either a podiatrist or chiropodist and get the same help.
Podiatrist – NHS vs Private
Podiatry treatment is available on the NHS, the benefit of this is that you will not have to pay, but treatment is assessed on an individual basis so you may not qualify. If you wish to receive foot treatment from a podiatrist then, instead of going directly to the foot health practitioner, you should visit your GP. Your doctor will assess whether you qualify for NHS treatment and if so, will refer you to a podiatrist.
More severe foot ailments get priority, as do people with certain conditions, such as diabetes or arthritis. Both these diseases can cause or worsen foot pain and need to be monitored.
If you wish to go private then you are in luck as there are several private podiatrists throughout the country. You won’t have to wait to be assessed by a GP and can be seen directly, without having to consult a doctor. The drawback to this, as with all private medical care, is that you have to pay. However, depending on the ailment, this can be useful and less stressful than using the NHS.
Things to Consider While Searching For a Good Podiatrist
Consider this scenario: Your feet have been aching constantly for the past two weeks. At first, you were just writing it off as the fact that you were getting older, but it’s been getting progressively worse. You’ve talked to your normal physician, but he’s not sure what to do about it. What do you do from here on out?
It sounds like you’re going to want to look for a podiatrist. Finding that specialized doctor for your feet is not only necessary sometimes, but it’s also important for your wellbeing and happiness. You use your feet constantly, so any type of pain radiating from them can affect your entire day, and can even affect others around you if it affects your mood.
So where do you start when you’re looking for a podiatrist? Should you just grab one out of the phone book and call it good?
Absolutely not! There are two major ways to find a good podiatrist, and the best way to find the right doctor for you is to use one in conjunction with each other. The first way would be based on recommendations on the doctors available in your area. Many people prefer this route because you find out what kind of experience real people had with the doctor.
One of the best sources for information on good podiatrists in your area is your primary care physician. If you ask your doctor for some advice on who you should trust your feet to, they might be able to give you some excellent recommendations. Unfortunately, because of the formation of physician panels and due to insurance constraints, your doctor may be forced to refer you to someone that he wouldn’t normally recommend.
Another great source of recommendations is to use your family and friends, and find out what kind of experiences they’ve had. This can be a great source of information, but it needs to be taken with a grain of salt as reviews can be biased based on their personal experience, and may not be a good view of the doctor overall.
The other option when searching for a podiatrist is to do some research yourself. One of the major advantages of this is that it allows you to ensure that any doctor you decide is covered by your insurance. It does have a downside, though, in that you’ll not get any true reviews, and you’ll be basing everything solely on qualifications.
When you finally decide on a podiatrist that you’re willing to consider, you want to ensure that they’re the right fit for you.
Considerations for a Good podiatrist
#1 – The first thing you’ll want to do is call the podiatrist and ask to set up an appointment to speak one on one with the doctor. This is extremely important to do, as a trusted podiatrist will be willing to speak with you in a one-on-one setting prior to discussing any diagnosis or treatment option. Don’t let a podiatrist start off with only attempting to diagnose your problem. Focus on getting to know the doctor and determine whether or not this is who you want to handle your problems.
#2- When you go to visit, you’ll want to look at the environment of the doctor’s office. One of the worst mistakes you can make when choosing any doctor is it go solely on the qualifications of the doctor. When you’re already dealing with pain, the last thing you’re going to want to deal with is a doctor’s staff that is rude and unhelpful. Plus, a clean facility is normally the sign of a good doctor, and a dirty one can be a sign of whether the doctors is going to focus on your healing.
#3 – You’ll also want to check your comfortableness with the doctor. Is it someone that you feel good talking to about your problems? If you’re not at ease with the doctor, you’ll want to continue your search. You’re more likely to talk to the physician if you’re comfortable with them, and when diagnosing any type of pain, an open dialogue is important.
#4 – Lastly, bring up your pain to the podiatrist and see what they recommend as treatment. Although it’s not the norm, some doctors will recommend something as invasive as surgery. This should be a massive red flag on your radar, as most foot pain can be treated with simpler treatments, as well as treatments that will prevent you from having to spend an arm and a leg to afford. Make sure that your podiatrist recommends multiple options to you, and that you get all of the options that are available for treatment.
When you’re deciding on any doctor, you should take some of these into consideration. It’s especially important, however, when trying to decide on a good foot doctor. You’ll spend a good portion of your time on this Earth on your feet, and you’ll want to make sure that they’re taken care of properly. By finding a good podiatrist, you can relax and take a load off.