These Frequently Asked Questions contain general information only and do not take into account your personal health, fitness or wellbeing circumstances, needs or objectives. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement by Avaana and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare, fitness or wellbeing professional. All site users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their health, fitness and wellbeing questions.
What questions should I ask before booking a podiatrist appointment?
- How long have you been a registered podiatrist in Australia?
- What qualifications and training do you have?
- Are you registered with the Podiatry Board of Australia?
- Do you specialise in any particular areas of podiatry?
- How long will our consultations take?
- How should I prepare for my first consultation?
- What are my treatment options?
- Have you had experience treating someone with similar symptoms to my case before?
- What should I do to care for my feet every day?
What should I expect in my first podiatry consultation?
You can expect the first consultation with your podiatrist to be quite similar to consulting with a medical physician. Many podiatrists will give you forms to fill out to record your personal details, outline the primary reason for your visit, and provide consent for them to treat you. You could be asked to fill out these forms prior to your first appointment.
Your podiatrist will first interview you to thoroughly explore your medical history. This will include a discussion of:
- Your symptoms (when they originated, how they have progressed, what makes them feel better or worse).
- Your medical history and potentially family health history.
- All medications you are currently taking.
- Your lifestyle (including exercise, footwear history, and general activity).
Since this part of the consultation has a significant influence on your diagnosis and treatment, it is best to be as honest and thorough as possible.
Your podiatrist will then perform a thorough physical examination of your feet, ankles, and lower legs. This will require you to remove your shoes. The techniques and modalities for assessment will vary depending on your condition, and can include:
- A visual examination of your skin and foot posture.
- A physical examination of your muscle strength, and the range of motion of the respective joints.
- An assessment of your foot position and alignment during weight bearing.
- A gait (walking) and postural alignment assessment in the practise space or on a treadmill.
At the end of the examination, your podiatrist will diagnose your condition and prescribe a treatment plan for you. If possible, they will treat you on the spot or may organise any required x-rays. Lastly, your podiatrist (or their receptionist) will arrange a follow-up consultation to track your progress and continue your care.
How should I prepare for my first consultation?
We recommend that you arrive early for your first consultation. Give yourself enough travel time to locate your podiatrist’s office, park your car, and be comfortable in the waiting room before your appointment.
Most podiatrists will ask you to first fill out forms to record your personal details and to outline the primary reason for your visit. You will also be asked to sign a consent form.
It is best to wear comfortable clothing that does not restrict your range of motion or prevent you from walking as you normally would. Wear clothes that will allow you to expose your feet and calves with ease. Bring the shoes that you would normally walk with. You will also be required to remove your shoes. This will ensure that your podiatrist can freely perform a physical examination during your session.
If you are unsure about your family medical history, it would be a good idea to research this before your session. Bring any important medical records (e.g. x-ray, ultrasound, or MRI scans) and current foot orthotics you may have with you to the appointment.
What is a podiatrist recommended for?
Podiatrists can help to prevent, diagnose, and treat a wide range of conditions that impact the foot, ankle, and lower limbs in people of any age. Some of these include:
- Physical injuries, such as factures and sprains.
- Neurological and circulatory disorders.
- Nail disorders, such as infections and ingrown toenails.
- Pain, such as growing pains, heel and arch pain.
- Discomforts, such as intense sweating (hyperhidrosis) or intense odours
- Bunions, hammertoes, or heel spurs.
- Balance and alignment issues, such as high arches, flat feet or imbalanced walking positions.
- Chronic conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis.
- Skin and fungal conditions, such as Athlete’s foot or dermatitis.
Is podiatry covered by Medicare and private healthcare insurance?
In Australia patients can claim a rebate through Medicare if they have been referred by their general practitioner under the Enhance Primary Care/ Chronic Disease Management Program. This cover caters specifically to individuals with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or complex care needs. To arrange an appointment under the Medicare program, consult your general practitioner first to determine if you are eligible.
Your podiatrist may refer you for plain x-rays of the lower extremities, as well as an ultrasound examination of the foot available for a Medicare rebate. It is important to know, however, that other radiological investigations (such as CT, MRI and bone scans), and referrals to specialist medical practitioners, are excluded from the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
Many private health funds cover approximately half the cost of your podiatry expenses in Australia. If you are planning a treatment for which you anticipate a private health cover, contact your private health insurance company in advance to confirm your benefit entitlement. If you are not covered, you are still able to access podiatric therapies outside the private health insurance system.
What could a podiatric treatment plan involve?
Podiatrists make use of a range of treatments. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your condition and health concerns. They may include footwear, inserts, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and wound or ulcer care. More specifically, common ailments are typically treated as follows:
- Skin and nail conditions: moleskin pads, topical antifungals, topical salicylic acid, cryotherapy, minor nail surgery.
- Arthritis: heat or ice application, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids, and surgery.
- Diabetic foot disorders: preventive foot care and treatments such as corrective footwear, antibiotics, antifungals, and surgical debridement.
- Bone fractures: rest, splints, braces, and casts.
- Foot deformities: orthotic devices (such as insoles and toe spacers) and surgery.
- Minor sports injuries: rest, ice application, compression, and elevation.
- Major sports injuries: splinting, steroid injections, platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy, physical therapy, and surgery for major injuries.
Routine care for simple acute symptoms can typically be assessed and treated immediately during your consultation. Follow-up appointments may be needed to ensure the problem is fully resolved. More complex issues typically require multiple consultations, further medical assessments (such as x-rays, ultrasound, and MRI), and continuous maintenance and care.
The podiatrist may also recommend some lifestyle changes that impact the health of your feet. This may include smoking cessation, weight loss, frequent walking, and careful diabetes management.
What sorts of qualifications should my podiatrist have?
Make sure you do your research before you settle on someone to help you. If you want to see a podiatrist, find a practitioner that is registered, well recommended, and with several years of experience.
Check that your podiatrist is registered with the Podiatry Board of Australia. If they are, you can be confident that their qualifications have been verified, and the practitioner will abide by the registers Code of Conduct and Standards of Practice. At a minimum, your practitioner must have completed an accredited degree such as a Bachelor of Podiatric Medicine or a Bachelor of Podiatry.
Many podiatrists specialise in areas such as sports medicine, biomechanics, arthritis, and gerontology (the scientific study of ageing and old people). Post-graduate education (Graduate Diploma, Master, and PhD level) courses are also available. Only those podiatrists with additional training from approved programs of study are endorsed by the Podiatry Board of Australia to prescribe restricted medications, or to obtain a specialist registration as a “podiatric surgeon”.
What is the difference between a registered ‘podiatrist’ and a ‘podiatric surgeon’?
Podiatrists and podiatric surgeons are both terms used to describe doctors of podiatric medicine. There is, however, a key distinction between these two qualifications.
All registered podiatrists in Melbourne and Australia have completed a four-year undergraduate degree in podiatry. As a consequence, all graduate podiatrists may administer local anaesthesia and perform minor skin and nail surgery.
Podiatric surgeons, on the other hand, are podiatrists who have undergone postgraduate training and education in reconstructive foot and ankle surgery. These practitioners will typically have had around 10 to 12 years of training and experience and will have been involved in over 2000 surgical procedures as part of their training.
Do I need a doctor’s referral to see a podiatrist?
No referral from your doctor is needed to see a podiatrist. You may contact your preferred podiatrist at any time to make an appointment. That being said, many general medical practitioners and other health care practitioners may refer you to a podiatrist or podiatric surgeon for expert care of the lower leg and foot.
How long does a podiatric consultation typically last?
The length of the consultation will depend on your current condition, your treatment needs, and the preferences of your podiatrist. The first appointment usually takes approximately 45 minutes, and follow-up consultations generally last 30 minutes.
Do podiatrists have areas of specialty in which they focus?
Podiatrists may focus on a range of specialty areas within the field of podiatric medicine and surgery. These include surgery, sports medicine, biomechanics, geriatrics, paediatrics, orthopaedics, or primary care.
How often should I see a podiatrist?
The frequency of your consultations are dependent on your podiatric concerns, and how quickly these develop. Most practitioners recommend having your feet checked annually by your podiatrist for your general health.
If you experience any acute podiatric concerns (like pain, sprains, sores, corns, calluses, or ingrown toenails), visit your podiatrist as soon as possible. Follow-up consultations are scheduled according to your health needs. These consultations are typically four to six weeks apart.
Individuals with chronic conditions, like diabetes, should visit their podiatrist every 3 to 6 months.
What’s the difference between a podiatrist and a chiropodist?
There’s no difference between a podiatrist and chiropodist, but the term ‘podiatrist’ is a more modern and common name used.
Should I get a pedicure before I go to the podiatrist?
It is tempting to look presentable for your Melbourne podiatrist. However, many practitioners warn against pedicures, as they can leave your feet vulnerable to fungal and bacterial infections. Podiatrists typically need to examine your nails for abnormalities and infections which is challenging when your nails are painted.
Why is diabetic foot care important?
Diabetes can reduce blood circulation and cause permanent damage to the nerves of the feet. This not only means that you will be more likely to injure your feet but can also reduce your body’s ability to heal infections and other foot conditions. In the worst case, these infections may lead to gangrene and can therefore require amputation.
Regular foot check-ups with a podiatrist are essential for individuals living with diabetes in order to detect problems early and to help prevent complications. At a minimum, this should happen once a year. We recommend, however, that you should check your own feet for swelling, redness, heat, and numbness every day to catch any abnormalities before the problem escalates.