Chiropody (podiatry)

Podiatry, or chiropody (the first word is more common of American English, the second of British) may be regarded by some people as just pedicure, treatment for feet and toenails, to make them more comfortable and beautiful. Assuming that it is right would mean underestimation of the science of podiatry.
According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, ‘podiatry is a field of medicine that strives to improve the overall health and well-being of patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing, and treating conditions associated with the foot and ankle’. The significance of podiatry can’t be overestimated, with disorders of the lower extremities ‘among the most widespread and neglected health problems’ and the human foot called ‘the mirror of health’.
The daily work of a podiatrist includes different procedures. The most serious of them is diagnosing diseases the symptoms of which are reflected on the foot, for example, diabetes and its common complication diabetic foot. Podiatrists treat foot pain, heel pain, correct foot bone deformities as bunions and hammertoes, calluses, corns, foot ulcers (sores), numbness in the feet, foot infection.
To avoid contamination, during foot and ankle treatment podiatrists use different techniques of sterilization of medical instruments: steam under pressure, dry heat (oven), chemical (liquid) sterilization, sterilizing using gas and heat/vapor under pressure (chemical autoclave).
Of course, podiatrists should care about people’s feet but people themselves should be also informed about general foot hygiene. Foot pain is not normal and is often a sign of a more serious medical problem. Every day a person should take care about his or her feet. Each time one goes to the primary care physician it is necessary to check one’s feet for any signs of diseases that often show up in the feet first. One should notice foot deformities and ingrown nails in time in order to correct them. Foot sores must improve quickly, otherwise one should go to one’s podiatrist. If one’s feet feel cold or have few feeling, it is a serious signal, for example, of diabetes or its complication diabetic neuropathy or even monofilament wires. It is important to look for areas of irritation (redness), inflammation (swelling) or any other changes to the feet.
In case it’s something wrong with your feet you should visit you podiatrist, and, of course, in case of diabetes. Podiatrists treat diabetic foot ulcers with special medications and ointments containing moisturizers (because diabetic feet get dry). The diabetic foot is also treated with special shoes and inserts. Sometimes the ECT, i.e. electro-convulsive therapy/electric shock therapy may be applied.
So, people should care not only about the beauty of their feet but also about their health in order not to become podiatrists’ patients. To prevent different foot illnesses with serious complications connected with foot it is necessary to follow the principles of hygiene.
APA – American Podiatric Medical Association, 06 June 2005