What is a podiatrist?

The word ‘podiatry’ changed from ‘chiropody’ in the late 1970s to help overcome the confusion with chiropractic. The word ‘podiatry’ stems from the Greek pedis (foot) and iatria (healing/physician). Podiatry is the profession that deals with conditions affecting the human foot. 

As a member of a health team, podiatrists are educated to diagnose and treat a wide range of foot conditions. Podiatry is a registered and regulated health profession. Health funds provide cover for some podiatry services on their ancillary tables. Entitled veterans are covered for podiatry through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

What do podiatrists do?

Podiatrists diagnose and manage conditions of the foot. These conditions include:
  • Heel pain (heel spurs)
  • Arch pain
  • Metatarsal (toe) pain
  • Bunions
  • Leg and foot fatigue
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Shin splints
  • Runner’s knee
  • Iliotibial band pain
  • Low back pain
  • Corns
  • Calluses
  • Warts
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Foot ulcers
  • Diabetic management

Do I need a referral to see a podiatrist?

In general, no. If you are seeking treatment and hold a Veterans Affairs treatment card, then you will need a referral from your GP (D904). Patients who are chronically ill who are being managed by their GP under an Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) also require a referral from their GP. LEARN MORE ▸
We have been offering high-quality care since 1982.

Are the services of a podiatrist covered by my health insurance or Medicare?

Only chronically ill people who are being managed by their GP under an Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) plan can have access to Medicare rebates for podiatry. At ACT Footcare, we do not bulk bill, but if you are managed under an EPC, you can take your receipt to a Medicare Office for a refund. Podiatry services are generally covered with Private Health Insurance under 'extras' or 'ancillary' cover options.

How long does an appointment take?

Initial appointments are 30-45 minutes. Follow-up appointments are generally 30 minutes.

How do I know if I have a foot problem?

In most cases, pain or excessive foot fatigue will alert you that you may have a foot problem. In the ‘normal’ foot, moderate levels of activity do not cause sore or tired feet. Although overuse may cause foot fatigue, it rarely causes pain. If the foot problem persists after you have rested, consult a podiatrist.

What can you I do about dry skin on my heels that is thick, callused or painful?

This is very common amongst people who wear open heeled shoes or sandals, and even more common in warmer months. Podiatry treatment and regular attention to the area with moisturiser will cause an amazing transformation.

I think I have an ingrown toenail. Should I see my doctor or a podiatrist?

If your toe is inflamed and infected it is advisable to see your GP to start a course of antibiotics. That way, when you visit your podiatrist, they will be able to remove the offending piece of the nail with less discomfort and continue care and/or maintenance until the nail has re-grown.

How old do you have to be to see a podiatrist?

Generally, if you have concerns about your children's feet, and they are walking, then your podiatrist can perform a thorough examination of gait and walking. If there is a familial history of foot problems present in children under 12 months, seeking advice earlier than later is preferable.

What are orthotics?

Podiatrists prescribe (and some construct) foot orthotics. These are specially designed devices that are worn inside the shoe to control abnormal foot function and/or accommodate painful areas of the foot. Properly designed foot orthotics may compensate for impaired foot function by controlling abnormal motion across the joints of the foot.

Orthotics that are prescribed by the podiatrist and custom made for your feet should not be confused with over the counter arch supports. These may help the occasional patient with minor arch discomfort, but they frequently fail because they do not properly control foot function and/or do not properly fit the patient's feet.

I have heard about warts. What are they, and how can they be treated?

Warts, also known as verruca, are caused by a virus. They are probably transmitted by exposure of the skin to the virus, for example, on the floor of a public shower. Warts can also appear on the top surface of the foot. Here they tend to grow out from the skin and are more easily recognised. The interval from exposure to seeing a wart may be many months. You should avoid over the counter treatments, as they can damage the healthy skin around the wart.

Podiatric treatment involves removing the thick layers of dead skin near the surface with a sharp blade (relatively painless) then neutralising the centre of the wart with a strong acid to kill the virus. Unfortunately, warts have a high recurrence rate and may require additional treatment.

I am diabetic - why is it important to look after my feet?

People with diabetes should receive a thorough foot examination at least once a year to identify high-risk foot conditions. If you or someone you know has diabetes, please talk to your podiatrist about proper foot care and treatment.

One of the most common symptoms of diabetes is neuropathy, a condition that can cause numbness, burning, tingling and diminished sensation in the feet. Neuropathy is the impairment of nerve function due to decreased blood flow and increased blood sugars. Individuals suffering from neuropathy may not be able to feel open sores, infections or blisters that need to be treated. Ulceration, another common occurrence with the diabetic foot, should be carefully treated and monitored by a podiatrist to avoid amputations.

Poorly fitted shoes or something as trivial as a stocking seam can create a wound that may not be felt by someone whose level of skin sensation is diminished. Left unattended, such ulcers can quickly become infected and lead to more serious consequences. Routine foot care is critical for the prevention of diabetes-related complications. Infection, ulceration or gangrene that may lead to amputation is often preventable through proper care and regular visits to a podiatrist.

Can you get arthritis in your feet?

Early signs of arthritis include joint swelling, pain, tenderness, heat, redness, limitation of motion, early morning stiffness and skin rashes. These symptoms often show up in/on the feet. Since arthritis attacks the joints—and each of your feet has 33 joints—it’s easy to understand how arthritis can seriously affect foot function. Fortunately, there is much you can do to offset these effects on your feet and stay as active as you want to be.

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