- As a nation, we are ashamed of our feet. While the world of bunions, verrucae and corns are by no means glamourous, they are extremely common complaints. Although the average British citizen will experience some sort of foot ailment during their lifetime, many will never seek out professional treatment due to embarrassment.
Podiatry is the name given to the branch of medicine concerned with complaints in the lower extremities (the leg beneath the knee and the foot), and there are over 12,000 podiatrist practices in the UK alone. There is a growing demand for healthcare professionals who specialise in a single area of the body, and due to the complexity of the human body with 206 bones, 640 muscles and 78 different organs, it’s not hard to see why.
Podiatrists play a valuable role in diagnosing, curing and preventing further foot and ankle pain. We’ve listed some great reasons below to not ignore painful paediatric problems.
They can cure your Foot Problems
It sounds obvious, but Podiatrists specialise in curing a number of minor foot related ailments including nail conditions, fungal infections and skin lesions, as well as more serious complaints such as diabetic ulcers and bone deformations.
If you bury your head in the sand and ignore seemingly minor foot complaints, they can quickly transform into major complaints that affect your whole life. For example, if bunions are left untreated in the early stages, they can worsen to a stage where the patient is unable to wear normal shoes and surgery is needed to correct the bone structure. Further complications such as toe displacement and arthritis are also relatively common if late stage bunions are left to develop.
They Prevent Future Problems
The saying goes ‘prevention is the best cure’ and this is certainly applicable when visiting the Podiatrist regularly. Those who make regular check-up appointments can avoid many potential problems as Podiatrists are specialised in recognising problems before they have occurred.
Diabetics in particular should visit a chiropodist as regularly as once a month due to their susceptibility to develop ulcers and lessened ability to heal quickly. The majority of ulcers caused by diabetes occur on the lower leg and foot and if they are not looked at by a professional in the early stages of development, infection can occur and even lead to amputation. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states that the country could save millions on annual health care costs if regular visits to podiatrists for diabetics are factored in.
They can get you back on the Field
Perhaps unsurprisingly, sports injuries are one of the most common areas that Podiatrists deal with.
Running, particularly on roads and hard surfaces, can put a lot of stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments in the lower leg, and pains like shin splints occur regularly. A podiatrist can not only treat the symptoms of running injuries, but can also perform a gait analysis and recommend the best style of trainers to compliment that shape of your feet and running style.
In rugby, the lower limb is often the most frequently injured area of the body. Due to the high contact nature of the sport, pressure is often applied to the ankles and feet during the scrum or in an unexpected tackle. Rugby forwards are often the worst affected players and are regular visitors to the Podiatrist’s clinic. After treating a sports-related affliction, a Podiatrist will often offer an aftercare programme to guarantee a player owns the correct boots, insoles and socks, and ensure that good foot hygiene is being maintained.
They can help you to make Lasting Lifestyle Changes
A Podiatrist can also deliver a plethora of foot care advice. Nutrition is hugely important when it comes to toenail health and the body requires certain vitamins and chemical elements from food to prevent nails becoming thickened, discoloured or breakable. Occasionally, alongside prescribing a topical nail treatment, a Podiatrist will also recommend enhancing your diet with additional iron and protein supplements.
Podiatrists can also give valuable advice on breathable foot-ware and following correct hygiene practices. For those over 60, living a lifestyle that maintains good foot health is particularly important. As we age, the joints in our toes can often become stiffer, and ankles are more prone to retain water and swell. With helpful advice and useful product recommendations, Podiatrists can assist the elderly to remain comfortable and healthy.
Foot problems should not be covered up or hidden away, I’m talking to those of you who are guilty of applying a second coat of polish to less than heathy looking toenails! Take the plunge and pay a visit to a foot care professional today.