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March 21, 2018: When do I need to see a Podiatrist?

At Maidenhead Podiatry we are often asked – ‘when do I need to see a Podiatrist?’

In answer to this we have produced this article to guide you through the many and varied aspects of Podiatry and help you find the foot care that suits you best. To assist in stopping the development of preventable foot problems and advise you in self care.

To offer a better understanding of the foot care options available to an individual we have split this blog into sections starting with the simplest or self care and escalating to the most complex or podiatric surgery as an end point.

  • Self care and footwear

Not everyone needs to become a patient. Many foot conditions can be safely and appropriately managed with the right equipment, skills and confidence. Many foot health advice leaflets are available through the NHS and the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists and your Podiatrist will be happy to give you advice and guidance.

Poor choices in footwear can cause significant foot problems and seeking and following advice to make good choices of appropriate footwear can prevent development of new conditions, aggravation of existing ones and prevention of falls. Again, your Podiatrist will be happy to give you advice and guidance.

  • Footcare

Simple footcare is defined as nail cutting and skin care including the tasks that healthy adults would normally carry out as part of their daily personal hygiene routine.

Of course this doesn’t apply to everyone but it is an important aspect of footcare that ensures many individuals check their feet regularly while still mobile and pain free.

For those who do attend clinic regularly for simple footcare, examination of the feet during a routine appointment acts as an early detection system ensuring prompt intervention and prevention of developing more serious foot health problems.

PODIATRY

  • Core Podiatry
  • Nail surgery
  • Warts and verrucas
  • Long term and neurological conditions

Core Podiatry is defined as ‘the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of common and more complex lower limb pathologies associated with toe nails, soft tissues and the musculo-skeletal system with the purpose of sustaining and improving foot health. (Farndon 2006).

The main foot conditions affecting older people (as opposed to children) requiring core podiatry are -nail problems, corns, callus, toe deformities, and falls prevention.

These conditions can be managed successfully by Podiatrists in the NHS and Private practice using a range of treatments including sharp debridement (scalpel), pharmacology (creams, tablets, steroid injection) and therapies (often in conjunction with footwear advice and and prescription of orthoses where appropriate0.

Although the call for Nail surgery is small – approximately 8 per 1000 GP patients – there is certainly a need for an effective, non-recurring treatment.

Since the 1970s partial or total nail avulsion has become a standard Podiatry procedure where part (the sides) or all of the nail are removed painlessly to the nail bed under local anaesthetic to resolve recurring problems with ingrown nails. The likelihood of regrowth is reduced to almost zero (0.5%) with the application of  phenol to the nail bed.

Warts and verrucas are small skin growths caused by the human papilloma virus. Verrucas are warts on the feet, common in children and although harmless they can be painful. Most verrucas will clear up without treatment within two years but there are numerous treatments available through your Podiatrist including

Long term and neurological conditions include conditions such as Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke and Parkinson’s and a Podiatrist’s management often involves management and prevention of potential escalation of foot problems. Core podiatry is essential in maintaining the integrity of the feet of people whose medical condition places them at risk of developing complex problems.

Falls prevention. Foot problems in older people are often associated with impaired balance and mobility and where there is a history of multiple falls there are usually more foot issues. The existence of a corn, bunion or poor footwear choices are often at play and podiatry intervention can moderate the risks.

ORTHOTICS

  • Orthotics, footwear and Musculo-skeletal provision
  • Podopaediatrics
  • Sports injuries
  • Footwear

Orthotics, footwear and Musculo-skeletal provision. Bio-mechanics and bio-mechanical assessment are an essential part of podiatry provision and the discussion of findings and correction of underlying issues with orthoses can have positive implications across the breath of podiatry services.

Many patients present with musculo-skeletal pain caused by bio-mechanical problems which can involve foot, knee, hip and lower back affecting gait (the way they walk). Often the most cost effective and appropriate treatment is the provision of orthoses (specialist insoles) which modify and correct the bio-mechanical problem.

There are a number of different orthoses that can be prescribed by your Podiatrist depending on presenting condition and patient need. Orthoses range from a simple heel raise or cushioned insole to specific complex custom devices.

Podopaediatrics focuses on provision of Podiatry for children. This ranges from treatment of warts and verrucas to early identification of foot deformities. From gait assessment to prescription of orthoses.

Sports injuries often occur due to abnormal rotation and deformation of joints and/or muscles. Podiatrists target improvement and resolution through bio-mechanical assessment and prescription of orthoses combined with strengthening exercises and footwear.

Footwear choices can directly affect foot conditions. Podiatrists offer advice from correct choices when buying shoes to measuring for custom made footwear depending on requirement.

SPECIALIST PODIATRY – relates mainly to long term conditions and may or may not be provided within a general podiatry clinic.

  • Diabetes
  • Systemic musculo-skeletal disorders
  • Dermatology
  • Advanced technology

Diabetes care is one of the basic provisions of any Podiatry practice and your podiatrist can offer regular foot health assessment as part of good diabetic control and patient education. Early detection of foot problems can ensure correct management and reduce the likelihood of critical long term changes.

Systemic musculo-skeletal disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) increase the need for a range of basic foot care services. Up to 90% of people with RA have some kind of foot involvement sometimes leading to the formation of callus corns and occasionally ulceration. Early Podiatric intervention can improve long term outcomes.

Dermatology can be considered part of core Podiatry as many of the common skin problems seen on the feet are amenable to Podiatric treatment. From tinea pedis (athlete’s foot) to melanoma. From verrucas to cellulitis you can ask your Podiatrist for advice.

Advanced technology is becoming more a part of day to day Podiatry provision. At Maidenhead Podiatry we use Swift – a microwave treatment – for verrucas, Clearanail for fungal nails and Cryopen for freezing warts and verrucas.

EXTENDED SCOPE PRACTICE

Podiatrists who work in extended scope practice usually work in the NHS although they can be available in larger private practices and have undertaken additional training in their clinical areas  and may actively engage in the following –

  • non-medical prescribing
  • requesting blood tests
  • requesting scans
  • interpretations of test results
  • injection therapy
  • advanced vascular investigations

PODIATRIC SURGERY

Podiatric surgery is surgical treatment of the foot and associated structures carried out by a Podiatric Surgeon often as a day case and under a local anaesthetic.

In Conclusion good foot health has a fundamental link to health and well being. Poor foot health can have a significant impact on mobility, independence, and quality of life.

Call your Podiatrist today and make an appointment for a foot health assessment and help lay the foundations of a healthy lifestyle.