Foot pain is not fun, and it can make your life difficult. Depending on your occupation, most people spend at least four hours or more standing. When it becomes painful to even spend a few minutes on your feet, it can cause major problems. But you may not know who to see to get your pain to stop. Do you need new shoes, or is the problem deeper?
In the world of foot care, some professionals do some of the same things for patients but are still quite different. Podiatrists and pedorthists fall into this category. While they are both trained to care for your feet, what they do and how they do it differs. Knowing the difference is the key to finding the right healthcare for your feet when you need it.
There are a variety of options for foot care specialists in Canada. If you’re wondering whether you need to see a podiatrist or pedorthist, we’ll break down their different roles and help you.
What is a podiatrist?
A podiatrist is someone who has the knowledge to care for your skin and nails. They belong to the College of Chiropodists and offer all the same services as a chiropodist. They can provide a diagnosis to patients and even perform surgeries on the bony tissue of your foot. Podiatrists can also assess custom footwear. They have the authority to prescribe medication and other treatments.
Some of the issues podiatrists are trained to deal with include:
- Heel pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Ingrown toenails
Podiatrists are knowledgeable about the complexities of our feet, including the bones, muscles, and skin that make up a complex network able to keep us upright.
To become a podiatrist, you’ll need an undergraduate degree either in science or the arts. You’ll also need to earn a Doctor of Podiatry Medicine degree or DPM. They can also be board certified or complete fellowships as part of their training.
When to see a podiatrist
A podiatrist is a trained medical professional. If you’re suffering from any of the following symptoms, you should go and see a podiatrist:
- Unusual feelings of numbness, tingling or burning in your feet or toes
- Injury with swelling, bruising, or serious pain
- Foot pain that lasts longer than a week
- Cannot use your foot
During the diagnosis, your podiatrist may use an x-ray, ultrasound or other methods to uncover the source of your pain.
You should see the advice of a podiatrist if you want to find out the cause of your pain and discomfort. They are trained to do a much more comprehensive diagnosis of your foot rather than recommend modifications to your footwear.
What is a pedorthist?
A pedorthist is trained in the function of feet. They provide foot assessments and offer advice and recommendations regarding your footwear. They have knowledge that includes the design, manufacture and fitting of custom footwear. They also know how to modify footwear to make it more comfortable and prevent injury, such as shoe lifts.
Pedorthist’s knowledge focuses on postural analysis, movement patterns, and musculoskeletal pain and injury. They are able to identify different orthoses and footwear adjustments that can alleviate your discomfort and pain. According to the Pedorthic Association of Canada, the goal is to help Canadians be active and have the best foot care and lower limb health.
To become a pedorthist, you need to earn an undergraduate degree in kinesiology, coupled with a diploma in pedorthics. There are different certifications available, including Certified Pedorthic Master Craftsman or C. Ped MC, Certified Pedorthist or C Ped C, Certified Pedorthic Technician or C. Ped Tech C, Certified Orthopaedic Footwear Specialist or COFS. To become a certified pedorthist, you need to finish 1,000 hours of practical work experience as well as complete a certification exam.
When to see a pedorthist
If you experience ongoing pain or discomfort when you are walking or running, you should seek the help of a pedorthist. One study found that 92 percent of patients were able to reduce their pain or discomfort after treatment by a pedorthist. They have the knowledge and skill to identify the best shoe, insert or combination to improve your discomfort.
If you’re looking for any of the following care, you’d be best to see a pedorthist:
- Need a foot analysis and advice on arch support or insole
- Find a shoe that works with the custom orthotic prescribed by a podiatrist
- Have a custom insole created that can properly support your foot; this includes casting and moulding
- Fulfill a podiatric prescription for diabetic therapeutic shoes or custom shoes
- Need to find footwear to fix certain issues like flat feet, painful arches, painful heels, bunions, hammertoes, or arthritis
Can podiatrists and pedorthist work together?
While they each have their specialties, some patients may benefit from treatment of both a pedorthist and a pediatrist. You may even need to see them both to fix your ailment. For example, you may need to see a podiatrist to diagnose the problems causing you pain. And one of the things to do to fix your foot pain is to have custom footwear, which is when you should consult a pedorthist. In this scenario, the relationship between the podiatrist and pedorthist can be complimentary. You’ll benefit from having the best comprehensive healthcare.
Your foot care
When it comes to your foot care, you’ll want to get the proper treatment fast. Given how many hours we spend on our feet both at home and at work, it’s vital to reduce any pain or discomfort. Sometimes the fix may be as easy as getting customized footwear, while other times, it is caused by something deeper. Knowing the difference between podiatrists and pedorthists can help you understand where to find help when you need it.