Podiatry – foot health is important

by Nuno de Sá [email protected]

Nuno de Sá is a specialist in Podiatry, working at the Hospital Particular do Algarve, Alvor and Faro, as well as at Clínica Particular do Algarve in AlgarveShopping, Guia.

Podiatry is the medical field that studies the feet. The object is to prevent, diagnose and treat alterations of the feet and their impact on the human body.

The specialist in this field of medicine is known as a podiatrist, whose main aim is to prevent and treat the causes of this disease.  

The podiatrist must reach a diagnosis based on various data which must be gathered from the patient, in order to carry out the necessary treatment.

Due to lack of information, many people think of podiatry as a simple treatment of aesthetics; this is definitely not the case.

As in other medical specialties, there has recently been a major evolution in the quality and type of services available in this area, which has paved the way to new methods of treatment and intervention.

This trend was also possible thanks to the implementation of new technology in diagnostic methods and the application of new treatments, making podiatry a highly specialised area of medicine.

The feet, as the only means of locomotion of the body, ensure the vertical position of the body as well as the correct function of the lower limbs.

Any alteration or change in the feet will mean that all elements that contribute to the dynamics of the body may be affected.

The feet are also the support  of the human body, they have  to bear the weight of the body and are therefore subject to a tremendous attrition.  

The different areas of podiatry are:

• Dermatology – treatment of the nails or skin;

• Orthopodology – correction and/or positioning of the foot in its proper support;

• Biomechanical assessment – functional problems of foot due to bad walking habits;

• Child podiatry – congenital problems (manifested at birth) and problems related to bad walking  habits;

• Sports podiatry – performance enhancement and injury prevention;

• Podiatry and foot treatment – treatment for diabetic patients (diabetic foot);

• Geriatric podiatry – stress of the feet due to age

• Preventive Podiatry – prevention of disease and recurrence of disease

All of the following are treatable by a podiatrist:

• Skin Alterations

• Calluses

• Mycoses

• Ulcers

• Warts

• Cracks

• Wounds

• Dry and scaly skin

• Sweating

Alteration of the nails:

• Onychocryptosis (ingrown toenails)

• Onychomycosis (nail fungal infections)

• Onychogryphosis (malformation of the nails).

Alterations of the Foot:

• Biomechanical alterations

• Gait studies

• Deformities of the toes

• Dysmetria and Heterometria (size differences in the legs)

• Plantar brackets (custom insoles), orthopaedic implants

Diabetic foot:

• Wounds and ulcers

• Structural changes

• Plantar brackets (custom insoles) prevention and compensation

Children’s feet:

• Incorrect foot support

• Knee alignment

• Excessive tiredness of the feet

• Dermal changes

• Malformation at birth

• Corrective compensation – Custom Made Insole

Foot of the professional sportsman:

• Injuries and trauma

• Incorrect Gait studies

• Foot support studies

• Custom made compensatory insoles: preventative and corrective

The podiatrist uses complementary diagnostic examinations to assist him in dealing with all these situations, such as X-Ray, MRI and Doppler. The podiatrist may also perform such surgeries as ingrown toe nails, removal of callus and warts.