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 vascularscopes or radiology. Gait analysis will often be undertaken through visual or computerised means and might include range of motion studies, postural alignment evaluation or dynamic force and pressure studies.
In Australia, podiatry is considered as an allied health profession, and is practised by individuals licensed by their representative State Boards of Podiatry. Australian podiatrists complete an undergraduate degree ranging from 3 to 4 years of education. The first 2 years of this program are generally focused on various biomedical science subjects including anatomy, medical chemistry, biochemistry, physiology, pathophysiology, scociology and patient psychology, similar to the medical curriculum.
All podiatrists may refer patients for Medicare rebatable plain x-rays of the foot, leg, knee and femur, as well as ultrasound examination of soft tissue conditions of the foot.