A Podiatrist spends 3 or 4 years at university learning specifically how the foot works when you walk and run. Podiatrists are autonomous healthcare professionals who aim to improve their patients’ mobility, independence and quality of life. They assess, diagnose and treat people with problems of the feet, ankles and lower limbs. Only clinicians who have completed the extensive university degree course and are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) can call themselves a Podiatrist or Chiropodist.
Orthotics are specially designed insoles / inserts which go inside your shoes and change the way your foot and lower limb biomechanics work. You can think of insoles as ‘spectacles for the feet’, involving a specific prescription to correct a specific abnormality. Like spectacles, it is always best to go to a specialist who can prescribe them accurately to correct your specific problem.
Because insoles are custom made, they can be made from almost any material. However, there are two more common types which South West Podiatry uses. Functional insoles: These are for the more athletic, weekend worrier amongst us. They have a slight stiffness to them with the aim of controlling the way the foot works and make it function more efficiently. These insoles are designed for people with knee and foot pain in association with issues like flat feet or high arched feet.
Accommodative insoles: These are for offloading specific areas of the foot where there is not a clear ‘biomechanical problem’ identified, such as flat feet. The most common condition for accommodative insoles might be insoles for bunions or for metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain). ‘Functional’ and ‘accommodative’ insoles are broad terms used to describe insoles and there is a crossover between them. At South West Podiatry we often take different features from each category and design a custom insole for your specific foot problem.
At South West Podiatry we often see patients who have been given insoles from a high street retailer where they have not been assessed or treated by a qualified, HCPC-registered Podiatrist. As a result, they have often been given insoles, which are not ideally suited to their feet or appropriate for solving their individual problem.
At South West Podiatry we spend time with our patients to ensure their insoles and treatment are right for them. Because South West Podiatry has spent years in the field of biomechanical podiatry, we have identified all the tips and tricks that prevent insoles from being uncomfortable to the patient. Will orthotics solves my foot problem?
Orthotics will control the position and motion of your foot. This may prevent the development of pain and disability, and the development of additional deformity. Some conditions will respond better to insoles better than others. South West Podiatry prides itself on not providing insoles unless there is medical research to support the use of them. Sometimes insoles can control your foot pain to a level where you are able to resume your activity, but you still notice it to some degree.
We understand that our patients are often professional men and women who need to dress appropriately for work and socialising, as well as for sporting activity. As a result, we will aim to fit our insoles in as many of your shoes as possible and will discuss the implication of this prior to any treatment plan being made.
Standard orthotics is appropriate for most activities, including sports, which do not involve excessive impact on the feet. Some sports, such as marathon running and basketball or netball, may require special insoles due to the high impact made with the ground. This is so the insoles are durable enough and so they can control the foot to an appropriate level.
Chiropody is a branch of medical science that involves the assessment and treatment of foot, ankle and lower limb disorders. This may include anything from treating a long-term ulceration of a diabetic foot or assisting a runner to compete in the London Marathon. A Chiropodist, also referred to as a Podiatrist, is an autonomous, primary care professional practicing in podiatric medicine that specializes in the assessment, management and prevention of diseases and disorders of the foot.
A Chiropodist will work as part of a team, including Physiotherapists, Osteopaths and Chiropractors in assessing the needs of their patients and managing both chronic and acute conditions affecting the foot and lower limb. A Chiropodist is capable of independent clinical practice and these skills can be provided without the need for a GP referral.
The short answer is nothing. The qualifications are essentially the same and both are protected titles in law. A Chiropodist is a more old fashioned term used to describe the basic treatment of hand and foot conditions. Today’s training of Podiatrists represents significant advancements in the diagnosis and treatment of foot, ankle and lower limb conditions. As all our staff has completed extensive undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications, the team at South West Podiatry refers to us as Podiatrists.
The role of the Chiropodist is to maintain and improve patient mobility, to alleviate foot pain, provide health education and thereby improving the patient’s quality of life. A Chiropodist provides care to a diverse range of patients and can specialize in the following areas:
– Diabetic Care
– Sport Injuries
– Biomechanical and Gait Analysis
– Podiatric Soft Tissue Surgery
– Wound Care
Whilst the team at South West Podiatry is trained and experienced in all the above treatments, we particularly enjoy treating sports injuries of the lower limb and helping our patients get back to their sport.