Our feet take on an enormous strain, with the average adult walking almost 75,000 miles over their lifetime. Feet aren't often at the forefront of the discussion when it comes to health and wellbeing, but in reality they’re essential to keeping us moving.
In the UK, primary care consultations for musculoskeletal foot and ankle problems are strongly associated with age, peaking in the 65-74 year age group. Looking after your feet earlier in life and getting any issues checked as soon as you notice them can help to prevent larger issues from occurring later in life.
What is a chiropodist?
Chiropodists, sometimes referred to as podiatrists, are trained to treat injuries of the feet and lower limbs, whether it be related to a specific health issue you have or a one-off injury. They can prescribe appropriate treatment and medication, and diagnose and treat fractures, deformities, tumours, ulcers and skin or nail diseases. Chiropodists can also provide preventative treatment. Many foot problems are preventable through regular visits to a chiropodist, saving you from further issues and unnecessary pain.
Visiting a chiropodist is a lot like visiting any other medical professional. What happens in your appointment is dependent on the issue, but typically there will be an evaluation of the issue followed by a treatment plan.
What causes issues in our feet?
For some issues, it can be as simple as wearing the wrong size shoes or coming into contact with someone who has athlete’s foot. Other issues can be more complex, such as pain in your feet when you walk, which could be a sign of a musculoskeletal problem that is impacting the way you move your body.
Certain medical conditions can also put you at greater risk of foot problems. For example, diabetes can cause reduced blood circulation and nerve damage in the feet. Poor circulation from other illnesses such as cardiovascular disease can cause foot problems as well. Without a good blood supply to your feet, you may have problems with cuts and sores healing. This leads to larger issues down the line, such as foot ulcers and infections.
Common foot ailments
There are some common foot issues that people deal with, but if left untreated certain ailments can become quite painful. Rather than suffering from it and just using over the counter treatment, you can visit a chiropodist who will appropriately diagnose and treat the issue.
Verrucas are one example of this. They are common and can become quite large and painful if not treated effectively. Cryotherapy is often used to freeze the verruca and can be carried out by a chiropodist, ensuring that the virus is dead and won’t continue to grow back. Some other common issues you can get treated for include hard skin, corns, fungal nails, thickened nails, cracked heels and athlete’s foot.
For people who are suffering from pain when walking but are unsure why, assessments can be done by your chiropodist to help determine what’s causing your pain. The assessment will focus on how your body moves and allow the chiropodist to prescribe a solution. Foot orthotics, which are placed in your shoes, are often used to help create normal walking function and alleviate pain in the long term. Other solutions may provide further intervention, such as treatment by a physiotherapist, which your chiropodist will be able to advise on.
Support when visiting a chiropodist
Having a health cash plan allows you to claim money back when visiting a chiropodist. With Westfield Health, you can claim back 75% of the overall cost for your appointment, up to set limits, depending on what level of cover you have.
Without a health cash plan, to access a chiropodist you either would need to be referred by your GP and join the NHS waiting list or pay for the full cost yourself. You can find out more about our health cash plan, the different levels available and all of the treatments you’re covered for.