Podiatry is the branch of medicine that deals with the assessment, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of conditions affecting human feet and ankles. Practitioners of Podiatry are known as podiatrists or chiropodists. The treatment techniques involved in podiatry include physical therapy, surgical intervention, drug prescriptions, incisions into subcutaneous tissue and injection of drugs into patients’ feet. Experts in podiatry also take care of patients’ nails, calluses and corns. Patients will also receive advice on the health of their feet and on how to prevent disorders. This is achieved by wearing the correct footwear for every activity, walking correctly and the use of orthotic devices to correct disorders of the feet or preventing their occurrence.
A podiatrist may specialize and specifically deal with children, sportspeople or the aged. Their area of specialization may also be determined by their work area like occupational health or general podiatry practice where they deal with all conditions affecting feet. The conditions that podiatrists handle emanate from disorders of the joints, bones, muscles, circulation and neurological systems. There is also a forensic podiatry branch that specializes in footprints, shoeprints, feet and footwear evidence that is present in a crime scene.
The following are conditions that should be checked by a podiatrist at the earliest opportunity.
Pain and discomfort in the toenails which is accompanied by thickening of the toenails. One should also visit a podiatrist if they experience pain and discomfort in their feet or ankles.
Changes in color of the feet or nails should also be checked by a podiatrist whether the changes are accompanied by pain or not. Painful heels and the formation of blisters on one’s feet that may be accompanied by feelings of warmth necessitate an appointment with a foot specialist too.
Young children can be assisted in walking where they have problems with their feet that hamper their mobility. Persons suffering from diabetes should make a point to visit podiatry experts because the condition is known to cause circulation problems in feet, which may result to amputations if there are delays in receiving medical attention. In such cases a podiatrist may perform the procedure or give advice to another medical practitioner responsible for the amputation on how to proceed.
Professional athletes have found the services of podiatry experts to be invaluable because they have helped them reduce injuries and stresses on their feet considerably.
It is also common to find patients with arthritis being referred to podiatrists where it has been found that the condition is affecting their feet.