A podiatrist, also known as chiropodists, provide preventative care, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of problems affecting the feet, ankle and lower legs. Their specialist skills focus on treating infections, defects and injuries of the foot and lower leg, as well as managing foot and nail conditions related to other major health disorders (e.g. diabetes).
Since 2003, both ‘podiatrist’ and ‘chiropodist’ have been protected titles. Anyone wishing to practise under either title is required to undertake an approved degree programme and register with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)
Typical work activities
A podiatrist can provide assessment, evaluation and foot care treatment for a wide range of patients. They may provide non-prescription medication for minor conditions and, for more serious conditions, may access and supply some prescription medications, orthotics, cryotherapy, electrosurgery, ultrasonics, specialised dressings and exercise therapies.
Typical podiatrist activities include:
- Assessing, diagnosing and treating abnormalities and diseases related to the foot and lower limb in people of all ages;
- Providing treatment of disorders among high-risk patient groups such as the elderly and those with increased risk of amputation;
- Using therapeutic and surgical techniques to treat foot and lower leg issues (e.g. carrying out nail and soft tissue surgery using local anaesthesia);
- Prescribing, producing and fitting orthotics and other aids and appliances;
- Delivering foot health education, particularly to more vulnerable social groups including the homeless, the elderly, children and those with medical problems such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis;
- Working closely with other medical practitioners such as doctors, nurses, health visitors, physiotherapists and complementary practitioners in the provision of multidisciplinary team delivery of healthcare;
- Understanding the mechanics of the body in order to preserve, restore and develop movement;
- Using a range of equipment including surgical instruments, dressings, treatment tables, orthotic (inner sole) materials, lasers, grinders, shaping equipment, x-ray and video gait-analysis equipment (which allows for analysis of patients’ walking or running problems);
- Treating patients who have an underlying illness or condition, such as very poor circulation, that puts their legs and feet at increased risk of injury and disability;
- Assessing, treating and advising patients in order to reduce long-term and serious problems that could lead to amputation.