Who is a Podiatrist?
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.
Some of the conditions podiatrists treat include those resulting form 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.
Why do feet need specialist care?
Our feet are very complex – they house a quarter of the bones in the body, as well as a network of muscles, ligaments and joints. They are also vulnerable to injury and disease; there are over three hundred identified foot aliments.
While our feet suffer wear – by the age of fifty, our feet have lost up to half of the shock-absorbing capability of the natural footpad – they cannot be replaced like a pair of shoes.
Quick Facts About Podiatry
- Working feet can cover as many as 24 kilometers in a day
- Nearly 20% of all workplace injury claims relate to injuries to the feet and toes.
- By the time we reach 50, our feet have covered 86,000 kilometres.
- People with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing serious foot problems.
- While running, your feet can absorb up to three times your body weight.
- 20% of cases of rheumatoid arthritis and 35% of stress fractures occur in the feet.
- You feet can carry you on a journey of 128,000 kilometers in a lifetime.
- Problems such as calluses, corns and blisters can be caused by pressure.
- Women have about four times as many foot problems as men; lifelong patterns of wearing high heels often are the culprit.
- Your feet mirror your general health. Such conditions as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet – so foot ailments can be your first sign of more serious medical problems.
Podiatry for Children
Children’s feet are still forming and are quiet fragile. They can be damaged easily by shoes and socks that are too small. Early examination of children’s feet is a preventative measure.
Uneven shoe wear; skin rashes, lumps and bumps on the feet; pain in the feet or legs; frequent tripping and falling are all signs of potential problems which is why early examination is very important.
The importance for finding the right shoe for you
Our feet wear an enormous burden of daily living. Even through simple day-to-day activities such as standing and walking, our feet can be injured if not properly supported.
Choosing shoes that will fit well is an important part of caring for your feet. Finding the right fit may mean you have to look at a few different styles to accommodate your particular foot shape.
There is no such thing as the one perfect show. Feet come in many shapes and sizes, and are involved in many activities. Generally though, when you buy a new pair of shoes, its important to make sure:
- They fit you properly.
- They are supportive for the kind of activity you engage in.
- They do not cause damage to your feet or hurt you in any way
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a condition in which the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood is too high because the body is unable to use it properly. This is because the body’s method of converting glucose into energy is not working as it should.
There are two common forms of Diabetes:
- Type 1 – Also known as insulin dependent diabetes. This usually affects children and young adults. People with this type of diabetes require daily insulin injections.
- Type 2 – Also known as non-insulin dependent diabetes, is by far the most common and usually affects people over the age of 40 years.
What are foot orthoses?
Orthoses are custom-made or semi custom-made devices to correct your foot posture. They alleviate aches and pains in feet, knees, hips and lower back.
When prescribing orthotics, our podiatrists conduct a full biomechanical assessment to determine the alignment and the function of the foot.
What problems can be treated with foot orthoses?
There are many conditions, which may be treated with foot orthoses:
- Lower back, hip, knee pain
- Intoed feet (pigeon toed)
- Ankle pain
- Heel pain
- Forefoot pain
- Flat feet
- Excessive shoe wear
- To redistribute pressure to decrease callous & corns
- Pre-fabricated devices (ready made, off the shelf)
- Semi customised
- Fully customised
- Pressure relieving insoles
- Insoles for high heeled shoes/ stilettos
What is the difference between a semi customised orthotic and a fully customised orthotic? Semi customised devices are made to a standard arch height and to a standard degree of correction. The device is made according to the size of your feet, via a foot tracing taken by the podiatrist. These devices are suitable for those people who only require a minimal amount of correction or support.
Fully customised orthotics are devices that are made to a specified degree of correction and support, which is determined by the podiatrist to gain the most effective results. A plaster mould is taken of your feet and sent off to a laboratory that uses the case to create the orthotic shell. These devices are suitable for those patients who require a prescribed amount of correction or support.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT PODIATRY
- 3/4 of people experience serious foot problems in their lifetime.
- The foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles.
- 1/4 of all the bones in the human body are down in your feet. When these bones are out of alignment, so is the rest of the body.
- Only a small percentage of the population is born with foot problems.
- It’s neglect and a lack of awareness of proper care – including poor fitting shoes – that bring on problems.
- Women have about four times as many foot problems as men. High heels are partly to blame.
- Walking is the best exercise for your feet. It also contributes to your general health by improving circulation, contributing to weight control and promoting all-around well-being.
- Your feet mirror your general health. Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in the feet – so foot ailments can be your first sign of more serious medical problems.
- There are 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of feet. Sweat glands in the feet excrete as much as a 500 ml of moisture a day.
- Walking barefoot can cause plantar warts.
- About 5% of Australians have toenail problems in a given year.
- The average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, which adds up to about 185,000 kilometres over a lifetime. That’s enough to go around the circumference of the earth four times.
- During the first year of a child’s life their feet grow rapidly, reaching almost half their adult size.
- By 12, a child’s foot is about 90 percent of its adult length.
- When walking, each time your heel lefts off the ground it forces to toes to carry one half of your body weight.
- Cigarette smoking is the biggest cause of Peripheral Vascular Disease (disease of the arteries of the feet and legs) that often leads to pain on walking, ulceration, infection and the most severe cases – gangrene and possible amputation.
- Around 40 percent of Australians will experience some form of foot problems in their lifetime. Foot disorders in the elderly are extremely common and are the cause of much pain and disability, and consequent loss of mobility and independence.
- Children’s feet grow rapidly in childhood, often changing sizes in months
- Children’s feet will reach almost half their adult foot size by the age of 18 months.
- Up to one third of children aged between 4 and 6 years of age suffer from “growing pains” in the feet and legs.
- An estimated 10-20 percent of children have flat feet (flat feet in children are not necessarily a problem but if they are causing pain, affecting mobility or interfering with activities, they should be investigated.)
- By the time we reach 50 we have lost up to half the shock absorbing capacity of the natural footpad