What is a Podiatrist

What Does a Podiatrist Do?

A podiatrist is a fully qualified allied health practitioner specialising in the medicine of the foot and lower limb. Podiatrists obtain a health science degree and here in Australia a masters in podiatric medicine. In the United States of America the setup is a little different. Firstly, the practitioner obtains a full medical degree  and graduates as a doctor. The doctor then decides to specialise in the foot and becomes what the American people know as a podiatrist. The podiatrists in the United States of America are often qualified to carry out surgery in addition to routine health care of the foot and ankle.

Here in Australia, there is a growing number of podiatrists who have trained under orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons and who are now qualified in Australia as podiatric surgeons. These podiatrists will carry out a full range of foot health procedures including minimally invasive fore foot surgery and reconstructive surgical procedures. They carry out surgical excisions and debridement of calcified tendons. Other podiatrists specialise in biomechanics – an area known as sports podiatry. Even if the patient does not belong to a recreational or elite sporting club, they fall into this category.

What Does a Podiatrist Treat?

Most podiatrists will treat skin and nail conditions such as corns and callous or ingrown toenails. They often perform partial nail avulsions otherwise known as minor nail surgery for ingrown toenails. A podiatrist will also perform laser surgery on toenails infected with fungus or tinea. Podiatrists also treat plantar warts otherwise known as verruca.

Our Sydney podiatrists focus on biomechanics or sports podiatry and spend their days assessing patients as they walk on a treadmill. They will treat conditions such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, perineal tendinitis, Morton’s neuroma, bunions, general foot and arch pain, or conditions affecting the lower leg and the knee. Our podiatrists will treat runners knee and iliotibial band syndrome. We also give advice on footwear and can recommend specific running shoes for individuals with specific needs.

Sydney Podiatrist Treadmill Assessment

Our podiatrist in Sydney will perform a biomechanical assessment using digital software and a treadmill on a daily basis. The podiatrist will use black texter to create anatomical markers on the foot and lower leg. The patient will then walk jog and run on a treadmill while the podiatrist uses specific motion analysis software to record. The podiatrist is then able to replay the footage in slow motion zooming in and out while taking notes. He or she is than able to freeze-frame, rewind and fast forward to identify and highlight points of interest.  This allows the podiatrist to detect any biomechanical anomalies and explain these to the patient, live.

The podiatrist will than take foot measurements and angles with the patient weight-bearing. Further tests will be performed with the patient non-weightbearing such as joint range of motion and muscle testing.

Podiatrist Treatments

In general podiatry, whereby the practitioner is treating skin and nail, the podiatrist is qualified to use certain chemicals such as phenol during nail surgery or salicylic acid for plantar wart treatment. The podiatrist is also able to use liquid nitrogen in order to freeze the tissue around the plant wart. This is a treatment known as cryotherapy.

Some podiatrists have done additional training and can perform dry needling using acupuncture needles. Other podiatrists are qualified in foot mobilisation techniques.

Some patients with chronic foot pain or long-term biomechanical anomalies are able to use customised insoles known as orthotics. This is a fairly specialised area and not all podiatrists get the same results.

Shockwave therapy is another very modern treatment which uses high-density soundwaves to stimulate healing. Podiatrists using shockwave therapy machines are able to provide short-term pain relief and long-term healing for soft tissue injuries such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis. Shock wave therapy has been found to stimulate the formation of new blood vessels and fresh collagen. It is these two key factors that are thought to stimulate and increase the rate of healing.


Typically patients have not needed a referral from the GP in order to see the podiatrist.

This is because Medicare has not always recognised or rebated podiatry services. However more recently Medicare has included podiatry on its list of allied health practitioners that can provide a service incorporating a rebate.

If you qualify for a primary care plan then your GP can put this together for you and refer you to the podiatrist. This will enable you to claim $52.95 from Medicare for each appointment, up to 5 appointments in a 12 month period.

At Sydney Podiatrist and Sydney Heel Pain clinic, our podiatrists are registered with all private health insurance companies. Every service or treatment that we offer has a code that can be applied and used to lodge a claim with your health insurance company. The level of rebate will vary from policy to policy. You can ask the podiatrist or the practice manager for a list of codes and this will enable you to ascertain the amount of rebate that you will receive.

So there you have it, this is a brief overview of what a podiatrist does

and how a podiatrist can help you. If you are searching for a podiatrist in Sydney and would like to discuss your condition with our practice manager please call on the following phone number and we will be happy to help. If you have foot pain or any concerns regarding foot and lower leg health then feel free to make an appointment with our qualified podiatrists.

Sydney Heel Pain Clinic / Sydney Podiatrists – 93883322

www.sydneypodiatrist.net.au / www.sydneyheelpain.com.au/