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Podiatry is the modern term for the health-science of the feet. It replaces the older term chiropody, and highlights the fact that a three or four year honours degree in podiatric medicine is now required to enter the profession and become registered with the UK governments’ regulatory body of healthcare professionals, the HCPC. Such registration is now mandatory and the title of Podiatrist is protected in law in the same way as that of Dentist, for example.
General podiatry can address and treat issues such as foot pain – from whatever cause, be it hard corny lesions, joint problems, nerve dysfunction, or soft tissue injuries from sports.
Podiatrists are also experts in evaluating how you walk and stand – known as the science of biomechanics - sometimes using computer or video aids in such assessments. If problems are revealed (which can often be the cause of pain in ankles, knees, hips and lower back) then exercises, footwear modification or discreet customised supports can be prescribed to help the symptoms and correct the underlying problem.
Basic ingrown nail surgery under local anaesthesia and the supply of certain antibiotics and painkillers can be performed by a number of general podiatrists although those with older qualifications may not be able to offer these services unless they have ‘topped up’ their training. The HCPC website offers an online check of practitioners’ qualifications on www.hpc-uk.org/check/
Some podiatrists build upon their initial degrees and after several years of extra experience, training and successfully passing further examinations, may become qualified to perform reconstructive surgery on the bones or deeper structures of the feet. Other senior practitioners may go down the postgraduate pharmacological training route and after a minimum of six years become qualified in more detailed use of drugs and medicines. After gaining a statutorily recognised qualification by examination, these practitioners become able to prescribe a full range of medicines to help problems affecting the foot and associated structures.
In short, modern podiatry is able to offer an appropriately qualified expert for whatever problems you have with your feet. We do so much more than cut corns!