PODIATRY / CHIROPODIST
[Until 1977, Australian podiatrists were known as chiropodists. The official name change to podiatry reflected the upgrading of education levels and an expansion in the scope of practice by the profession.]
A podiatrist is a health professional who deals with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of medical and surgical conditions of the feet and lower limbs.
The conditions podiatrists treat include those resulting from bone and joint disorders such as arthritis and soft-tissue and muscular pathologies as well as neurological and circulatory diseases. Podiatrists are also able to diagnose and treat any complications of the above which affect the lower limb, including skin and nail disorders, corns, calluses and ingrowing toenails.
Some conditions treated by podiatrists:
• Treatment and prevention of corns, calluses and warts
• Systemic diseases - such as arthritis affect the joints in the foot, podiatrists monitor feet for any degenerative changes.
• Children’s feet - The child’s foot is not just a small-scale model of an adult foot. Its shape is not finally determined until growth ceases at the end of the second decade of life.
• Occupational Podiatry - Hairdressers, factory workers and nurses are examples of those from professionals likely to develop long-term problems unless preventative measures are taken.
• Biomechanics - In treating chronic foot pain, and evaluating specific needs of patients, the podiatrist will often assess the anatomy and function of the foot and lower limbs during gait.
• Sports medicine - Injuries to the foot and lower limb make up a large proportion of sporting injuries.
Podiatrists are qualified to perform both nail and cutaneous surgery, but some have undertaken further education to perform additional foot surgery.