Finding the right podiatrist is generally not as simple as a Google search. Unfortunately, many professionals have been known to exaggerate their level of expertise or experience on websites.
A prospective patient needs to consider if a Podiatrist is clinically competent, qualified and familiar in managing the particular concern they may present with. This may be care of a skin or nail condition, arthritis, heel pain, sporting injury, diabetic assessment, children’s feet or surgical opinion or intervention.
Secondly, the right podiatrist should be a good communicator and make you feel comfortable. Word of mouth is certainly a terrific guide, but no guarantee of the chemistry between Podiatrist and patient, as this is a very personal appraisal. I would recommend making an initial appointment to see how you “gel”!
Thirdly, the right podiatrist should be goal-oriented to solving your particular problem, up to date with current trends and latest evidence-based treatment, aware of their own limitations, prepared to refer when necessary and share decision making and inclusion of patient decisions.
What does a podiatrist do?
Podiatrists are experts in foot, ankle and lower limb health. They can help prevent, diagnose and treat a range of conditions, including:
- Ingrown toenails, corns and warts
- Heel and arch pain
- Ankle pain and instability
- Foot complications from diabetes and arthritis
- Shin pain and posture-related knee pain
A Podiatrist may assess the way a patient walks or runs, and management may include specific exercises, custom made inserts for your shoes, extra-corporeal shockwave, dry needling or medications. Some Podiatrists have a particular interest in areas of practice, including sports, children, workplace health or surgery.
Podiatrist vs. Chiropodist:
Both Podiatrists and Chiropodists are primary healthcare professionals specialising in the assessment and treatment of foot and lower limb disorders. The difference in title is determined by which course the Chiropody or Podiatry degree was obtained.
In Australia, the title Chiropodist was replaced with Podiatrist in 1977. The name change reflected a change in the level of education to a bachelor degree. Furthermore, the term Chiropodist, by origin, refers to hand and foot – Podiatrists do not treat the upper limb and are not insured to do so.
Podiatrist vs. Doctor:
I don’t feel it is a case of necessarily selecting one healthcare professional over another. Both are health professionals and obviously have different training.
Podiatrists, of course, have more targeted education toward foot pathology. Having said that, many foot complaints are a symptom of a more generic medical complaint, so both professionals will often have a role in shared care when referral is common.