What is Podiatry?
Podiatry is the new word for chiropody, a term with which most people are more familiar. It is the treatment of foot disorders in health and in disease. Originally chiropodists dealt with both hands and feet (the ‘chiro’ part of the word means hand), but since hands are no longer within the scope of practice only the ‘pod’ part of the word is used, hence ‘podiatry’ is replacing ‘chiropody’.
Until a few years ago it was possible for anyone to call themselves a chiropodist without having to undergo any formal training. These days, however, someone can only legally call themselves a podiatrist or chiropodist (the terms are interchangeable) if they have completed the recognised degree-level training course or if they have undertaken further training to bring their skills and knowledge base up to the required standards. In addition, all practitioners must be registered with the Health Professions Council. You can check if a podiatrist or chiropodist is registered by visiting www.hpc-uk.org.
Professional care of feet was in existence in ancient Egypt where work on hands and feet was depicted by bas-relief carvings at the entrance to a tomb dating from about 2400 BC, A prosthetic big toe was found on a mummy dating back to between 1069 and 664 B.C. In ancient Greece, corns and callus were described by Hippocrates who recognised the need to physically reduce hard skin, followed by removal of the cause. He invented skin scrapers for this purpose and these were the original scalpels. Aulus Cornelius Celsus a Roman scientist and philosopher was probably responsible for giving corns their name.
What happens during a treatment?
A first appointment lasts 45 minutes and will include taking a full medical history and carrying out an assessment of the circulation and sensation in your feet. The particular foot problem for which you are attending will then be addressed. If the results of the foot assessment indicate that you may be eligible for NHS podiatry care (for example, if you have diabetes), a request may be made to your GP to refer you on to the NHS podiatry department. Your footwear may also be assessed.
If further treatments are required, subsequent appointments last 30 minutes and will be scheduled for whatever review period is appropriate (this may be a few weeks to a few months, or just as and when required).
What can a Podiatrist help with?
It is estimated that the average person walks around two and a half times the circumference of the earth in a lifetime. Three out of four people at the age of 70 have to see a podiatrist in order to remain comfortable, and around 90% of people will have seen a podiatrist at least once by the time they reach 60 years of age.
Medical conditions which can affect the feet include;
- Inflammatory arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Circulatory disorders
- Heart conditions
- & skin complaints such as eczema and psoriasis
A healthy foot can still present with problems – callus (hard skin), corns, thickened or ingrown nails, Athlete’s foot, dry or cracked skin, heel pain, etc. All can be relieved by treatment, although reoccurence can only be prevented if the cause is dealt with. It may be necessary to review footwear styles, wear some sort of protection or padding over problem areas or to wear orthoses (insoles).
Regular treatment for a recurring problem is recommended to prevent possible further complications.Feet – everyones primary point of contact with the ground.
- Podiatry is the new name for chiropody
- Foot problems of all kinds can be helped through podiatry
- Podiatrists use a range of different techinques
- Podiatrists are regulated professionals