What is podiatry?
Podiatry is a branch of medicine concerned with the study of feet and foot disorders. As a foot specialist, the role of a podiatrist is to prevent and treat all foot problems with podiatric care.
This branch of medicine is divided into two main areas:
- Medical pedicures are specialised foot care also known as podiatric care or pedicure care: toenail cutting, treatment of corns, calluses, hard skin and ingrown toenails, treatment of skin and nail conditions, such as fungal nail infections.
- Podiatry involves gait analysis and treating walking problems with bespoke insoles or functional foot orthoses.
The clinical examination is performed using a force platform (pressure sensors), which indicates foot position when walking and can explain certain lower limb pain.
Who can see a podiatrist?
Podiatrists specialise in treating children, teenagers, adults and the elderly as well as athletes.
In certain medical conditions, follow-up is essential for the following patients:
• Patients with diabetes
• Patients undergoing chemotherapy
• Patients with venous or arterial circulation issues
• Patients with a neurological condition and reduced or increased sensation in their lower limbs.
What symptoms does a podiatrist treat?
You may need to see a podiatrist for advice and treatment if you experience any of the following symptoms, including:
• Pain associated with ingrown toenails, corns, calluses and painful hard skin that may make it difficult to wear shoes
• Lower limb joint pain in the hips, knees or ankles when walking
• Lower back pain
• Pain when playing sport, such as tendinitis, which may be hiding poor posture or poor alignment and can be detected by a full clinical examination including a walking and running gait analysis.
These baropodometric analyses are performed using a force platform as well as pressure insoles for an accurate analysis during the patient’s activity.
What are the potential treatment options in podiatry?
Podiatrists offer the following treatments:
Foot and nail care:
• Ingrown toenails: regular nail cutting to prevent and treat recurring ingrown toenails
• Nail cutting: filing and grooming
• Corns, calluses and hard skin: removal of painful corns and calluses caused by pressure and rubbing from wearing shoes.
Insoles or functional foot orthoses
Insoles or functional foot orthoses are used to treat foot, knee, hip and even back pain caused by poor posture, lower limb length discrepancy and repeated sprains. They can also be indicated in patients who have had surgery, such as bunion surgery, joint replacement surgery and ligament reconstruction surgery.
• Foot abnormalities and deformities
o Bunions (hallux valgus): a bump that forms on the outside of the big toe and causes pain when wearing shoes and walking
o Flat feet: a condition where the arches on the inside of the feet are flattened
o Hammer toe and claw toe
o Metatarsalgia: a condition where the ball of the foot becomes painful due to excessive walking
o Morton's neuroma: a condition where local inflammation of the ball of the foot causes tingling and/or electric shock-type sensations when wearing shoes and/or walking
o Talalgia, plantar fasciitis (heel spurs): pain associated with inflammation of the plantar fascia or aponeurosis, the ligament that stretches from the heel to the toes.
• Ankle pain
o Ankle pain caused by an injury or osteoarthritis: insoles or functional foot orthoses stabilise and cushion shocks when walking and running as well as preventing any new sprains
o Repeated ankle sprains: for ligament injuries and instability, insoles or functional foot orthoses are used to stabilise the ankle when walking and aid recovery with good mobility following a sprain.
• Knee pain (gonalgia)
o Genu valgum: to correct knock knees
o Genu varum: to unload the internal compartment while realigning the knee and preventing early internal wear and tear, such as osteoarthritis and meniscus tears
o Iliotibial band syndrome, also called “windshield wiper syndrome” or "runner's knee”: to unload the external compartment
o Anterior cruciate ligament injury, before surgery: to stabilise the frontal plane in order to help patients start playing sport again alongside quadriceps strengthening, and following surgery: to stabilise the knee in order to limit stress on the ligament reconstruction.
o Osteoarthritis: to unload the affected joint compartment while building the knee axis
o Total knee replacement surgery: to stabilise the frontal plane in order to aid recovery and help patients walk smoothly again
o Hip pain (osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia): to change the joint axis and the position of the femoral head in order to relieve inflammatory pain
o Lower back pain: to correct overall body posture
o Lower limb length discrepancy: to compensate for leg length while stabilising the position bilaterally
o Hip, knee and foot replacement surgery: to stabilise the lower limb when patients start to walk again
o Feet post-operative follow-up: to unload the operated area in order to help patients gradually walk smoothly and play sport again (insoles are covered by basic health insurance).
Health insurance cover
Health insurance cover depends on your medical condition and health insurance plan:
- Diabetic patients: covered by basic health insurance if referred by a healthcare professional for four to six sessions a year.
- Oncology patients who need podiatric care for side effects related to their cancer treatment are also covered.
- All patients: some supplementary health insurance plans cover podiatric care if it has been referred by a healthcare professional. Please contact your health insurance provider for more information.
Why see a podiatrist with Swiss Medical Network / Clinique de Montchoisi?
Clinique de Montchoisi is an intimate care facility, making it possible for podiatrists to work closely and quickly with other doctors at the clinic, particularly orthopaedists. Patients also benefit from exclusive access to our network of specialists with direct multidisciplinary care.
Why should I see a podiatrist?
The feet and ankles are complex structures and used constantly. This intensive use can therefore lead to problems over the years. You need to have a consultation with a podiatrist to check that your feet are healthy.
You may also need to see a podiatrist for a variety of conditions and symptoms, including: hyperkeratosis (corns, calluses), plantar warts or verrucas, bunions, ingrown toenails, foot perspiration, etc.
When should I see a podiatrist?
You should see a podiatrist for a check-up once a year. You may also need to see a podiatrist for the following conditions and symptoms: hyperkeratosis (corns, calluses), plantar warts or verrucas, bunions, ingrown toenails, foot perspiration, etc.
What is a medical pedicure?
A medical pedicure is specialised medical foot care performed by a qualified podiatrist. Everyone should have at least two medical pedicures a year.
In addition, regular follow-up podiatric care, ranging from four to six weeks, is essential for preventing painful injuries, sprains, corns and ingrown toenails at risk of becoming inflamed and infected.
Do I need a referral to see a podiatrist?
You do not need a referral to see a podiatrist. However, a referral is required for care to be covered by supplementary health insurance or by basic health insurance for diabetic patients.
Who can prescribe insoles and functional foot orthoses?
Both general practitioners and specialists are able to prescribe insoles and functional foot orthoses.
What is the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopaedist?
People with feet and ankle problems may be unsure whether they should seek advice and treatment from a podiatrist or an orthopaedic shoemaker.
Podiatrists are foot specialists with professional medical knowledge. In contrast, an orthopaedic shoemaker is a technician who makes, repairs and maintains bespoke shoes, insoles and functional foot orthoses as well as special equipment and devices.
Orthopaedic surgeons are doctors who specialise in surgery on the musculoskeletal system, i.e., bones, joints, cartilage and ligaments.