Podiatrists are university-trained health professionals who are experts in foot, ankle and lower limb health. They work with children and adults to help prevent, diagnose and treat problems with the bones, joints, soft tissues, muscles, nerves and circulation in your feet. Podiatrists also treat skin and nail disorders, corns, calluses and ingrown toenails.
You might see a podiatrist if you:
- need splints or orthoses to hold your foot in a good position when you are walking, wearing shoes or resting
- have contractures or tightness in the muscles in your feet and/or ankles, that are causing pain or affecting the way you walk
- have feet problems that affect your balance or walking
- have pain in your feet
- have ingrown or discoloured skin/nails, corns, swelling, lumps, or redness on your feet or legs.
A podiatrist will ask you about your medical history and your current issues/problems. They will assess your movement, muscle strength and mobility of your feet and lower limbs with a range of different tests, as well as closely look at the way you walk, stand and balance. Podiatrists use many different types of treatments, including:
- exercise programs to improve mobility and strengthen muscles in your ankles and feet
- orthoses (custom-made inserts for your shoes) to support your foot and/or ankle and correct imbalances
- advice about footwear and shoes
- minor nail and foot surgery, dressings and medications for nail and skin problems.
The costs for seeing a private podiatrist vary between practices. Many charge between $70 and $150 an hour for a consultation. If you have private health insurance, some of the costs might be covered, depending on your policy. Check with your health insurer before you go. Medicare sometimes covers some of the cost of seeing a podiatrist if your doctor refers you as part of a care plan, also known as a Team Care Arrangement (TCA). Some public hospitals and community health centres offer free outpatient clinics with podiatrists but you will need a doctor’s referral
If you have an NDIS plan you can discuss your needs for podiatry in your planning meeting. The National Disability Insurance Agency may fund therapy, assessments and reports to be completed by a podiatrist in your NDIS plan.
You can find a podiatrist by asking your neuromuscular care team or your GP for a recommendation, or on the Australian Podiatry Association’s website.
You can choose to:
- See a private podiatrist. You can make an appointment with a private podiatrist any time and do not need a referral from your doctor.
- Get a doctor’s referral to a private podiatrist. Sometimes you can get a rebate from Medicare for some of the cost of seeing a podiatrist if your doctor refers you. Ask your doctor for more information about a Team Care Arrangement (TCA).
- See a podiatrist in the public system. Some public hospitals and community health centres have podiatry clinics, but there is usually a long wait. You will need a referral from your doctor.