Podiatry 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 disease. 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 ingrown toenails. Foot injuries and infections gained through sport or other activities are also diagnosed and treated by podiatrists.
A range of skills are employed by podiatrists. Direct consultations include a clinical history composition, physical examination, diagnosis, preparation of a treatment plan and provision of a range of therapies. Clinical assessment techniques aim to secure a diagnosis and prognosis and take into account clinical, medical and surgical history, footwear, occupational and lifestyle factors, and may incorporate the use of diagnostic equipment such as vascular studies or radiology. Gait analysis will often be undertaken through visual and computerised means and includes range of motion studies, postural alignment evaluation, and dynamic force and pressure studies.
Clinical services require skilled use of sterilised instruments and appropriate infection control procedures, along with appropriate application of pharmacological agents, specialist wound dressings and a variety of physical therapies. Prescription foot orthoses (in-shoe devices) offer permanent solutions in the treatment and prevention of corns, callous and necrotic ulceration in their capacity to provide pressure redistribution. As a technique for providing consistent weight-bearing realignment they are utilised in the treatment of acute and chronic foot conditions such as tendonitis, recurrent ankle sprain, chronic knee pain and stress fractures, to supplement and enhance clinical care.
Foot health education regarding self care techniques and prevention of foot pathology is an important component of individual care but is also frequently implemented on a greater scale, either to specific target groups or as community projects.
In order to facilitate enhanced clinical care, podiatrists establish and maintain collaborative relationships with other health care providers, often working with a multi-disciplinary team.