Maintain your health from the ground up by supporting your feet

How can podiatry nourish you?

Podiatrists are specialists in the treatment and prevention of medical conditions affecting the feet and legs. They are trained to diagnose and treat issues ranging from calluses and corns to complications of underlying health conditions including diabetes and sports injuries. Surgeons of podiatry are qualified to perform operations on the feet and ankles, and all podiatrists are trained to carry out simple procedures for the surgical treatment of ingrown or deformed toenails. 

A medical papyrus from ancient Egypt estimated to be more than 3500 years old is among the earliest records of specialised treatment for foot conditions. Hippocrates, often described as the father of modern medicine, is said to have discussed the removal of corns and calluses from the feet, and the scalpel is believed to have been originally invented for this purpose. Practitioners specialising in the treatment of foot diseases were formerly known as ‘chiropodists’, and this term is still sometimes used today.

In Australia, podiatrists are regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and normally, you don’t need a referral to visit one.

Benefits of podiatry

Considering how much time most of us spend on our feet, it’s not surprising that podiatrists treat such a wide variety of conditions. They can diagnose general aches of the feet, as well as localised problems such as heel pain, and address the underlying causes, which might be a mechanical issue such as poorly fitting shoes. 

They are skilled in diagnosing and treating musculoskeletal injuries to the feet and lower legs, including sprains and stress fractures. Other structural and chronic concerns that may benefit from podiatric care include flat feet and bursitis. Podiatrists often treat conditions including ingrown, thickened or deformed toenails, as well as fungal infections. They can also provide expert care for care for calluses, warts, heel fissures and other skin-related problems.

Research suggests podiatric treatment including ankle strengthening exercises and inserts for footwear may help reduce the incidence of fall-related injuries among elderly people. Podiatry is recommended as a “vital component” in the management of bunions, gout and rheumatoid arthritis. Foot problems related to diabetes are among the more common conditions treated by podiatrists, and there is evidence to suggest podiatric care may significantly reduce the incidence of complications associated with diabetes. 

Podiatry may assist in relieving symptoms related to:

Achilles tendonitis Arthritis, rheumatism and osteoarthritis Bunions, calluses and corns Diabetes Foot, heel and ankle issues Gout Plantar fasciitis Shin splints Shoulder and elbow issues Sports injuries Sprains, strains and ligament injuries Show all

What to expect from a podiatry session

Your first appointment with a podiatrist is likely to take about 40 minutes, and you will need to bring any X-rays or other imaging and documents related to your condition if available. You should also bring the footwear you use most frequently. The podiatrist will ask you about the health issue you are concerned about, as well as your medical history and what sports or other forms of exercise you might do regularly. 

Your practitioner will perform a careful examination of your feet and legs, as well as a gait analysis, which involves observing and measuring key parameters about the way you walk. If you have diabetes, the podiatrist will test the sensation levels in your feet and assess circulation to your lower extremities.

The podiatrist will complete a diagnosis and provide you with a detailed treatment plan, possibly including exercises for you to do or even lifestyle advice. Simple issues such as calluses or hardened skin might be treated on the spot. Depending on your condition, you might also be provided with custom-designed orthotic supports, or shoe inserts, to correct the position of your feet and potentially improve your posture.

If you have a severely ingrown nail, you might wonder, what is a podiatrist likely to do for treatment? A typical procedure is called a partial nail avulsion, which involves surgically removing a small section of your toenail under local anaesthetic. This operation takes about an hour and you will not need stitches, so you can walk straight after it’s finished.

Podiatrists generally have a lower risk profile than pedicurists and similar professionals because of their strict attention to sterile and hygienic working conditions. However, although your health is unlikely to get worse due to podiatric care, there are limitations to what can be achieved despite the most conscientious efforts. In high-risk cases of diabetes-related foot problems, podiatry is not always successful in preventing major medical problems.

If you have an injury or other health issue that your podiatrist is not qualified to treat, they will refer you to a GP or other health professional to ensure you will receive the most appropriate care. Don’t hesitate to ask your podiatrist about any concerns you might have, or to explain your treatment and provide advice about preventing a recurrence of your foot-health problems.


What is a podiatrist? | Australian Podiatry Association

About The ACPS | The Australasian College of Podiatric Surgeons

Foot care -- podiatrists | betterhealth.vic.gov.au

Podiatry | Encyclopaedia Britannica

Who Was Hippocrates? | livescience.com

The History of Podiatry | Advanced Foot & Ankle Center

Important facts about the history of Podiatry | Renaissance Foot & Ankle Center

Podiatry Board of Australia | ahpra.gov.au

Do I need a referral to see a podiatrist? | thefoothub.com.au

5 signs you might need to see a podiatrist | medibank.com.au

Stress Fractures | wellheeledpodiatry.com.au

Flat Feet Or Fallen Arches | pivotalpodiatry.com.au

Bursitis | entirepodiatry.com.au

Nail problems | walkingclinicpodiatrist.com.au

Podiatry and foot conditions | footcentregroup.com.au

Cost-Effectiveness of a Multifaceted Podiatry Intervention for the Prevention of Falls in Older People | Gerontology

Meeting the demands of a podiatry service for patients with arthritis | Journal of Foot and Ankle Research

Podiatrist Care in the Primary Prevention of Foot Problems in Diabetic Subjects | American Diabetes Association

What to expect at your first Podiatry consultation? | showgroundspodiatry.com.au

What to expect at your first consultation | feetology.com.au

Biomechanical and gait assessment | walkingclinicpodiatrist.com.au

What can I expect from my first visit to a podiatrist? | watsoniapodiatry.com.au

At your podiatry appointment | profeetpodiatry.com.au

What to Expect When Visiting a Podiatrist | entirepodiatry.com.au

Ingrown Toenail Treatment & Removal | mypodpodiatry.com.au

Should I See A Podiatrist Or A Pedicurist? | thefootcareclinic.com.au

The Impact of a Podiatric Lead Limb Preservation Team on Disease Outcomes and Risk Prediction in the Diabetic Lower Extremity | Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association

Frequently asked questions

Podiatrists specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of medical conditions affecting the feet and legs. They address a range of issues, from common concerns like calluses and corns to more complex problems associated with diabetes, sports injuries, and deformities.

Podiatrists play a crucial role in diabetic foot care. They monitor and manage foot complications associated with diabetes, such as neuropathy and poor circulation. Regular check-ups and preventive measures can help prevent serious complications.

Podiatrists not only address foot pain but also handle various lower limb issues. They diagnose and treat conditions affecting the ankles, heels, arches, and toes, providing comprehensive care for the entire lower extremity.

Podiatrists offer a range of treatments, including orthotics, physical therapy, and minor surgical procedures for conditions like ingrown toenails. They may also provide advice on proper footwear, exercises, and lifestyle modifications for improved foot health.

Consult a podiatrist if you experience persistent foot pain, discomfort, or notice changes in the appearance of your feet. In many cases, a referral is not necessary, and individuals can schedule an appointment directly with a podiatrist.

Podiatrists who are surgeons can perform various foot and ankle surgeries. Common procedures include the surgical treatment of ingrown toenails, correction of deformities, and addressing issues related to arthritis or injuries.
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