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The role of a podiatrist

5-minute read

Key facts

  • Podiatrists are doctors who treat conditions affecting the foot, ankle and lower limbs — including injuries, pain and balance issues.
  • Your podiatrist may give you specific exercises, custom-made inserts for your shoes or medicines for your condition.
  • Podiatrists work in private practice and in public health clinics or hospitals.
  • You don't usually need a referral to see a podiatrist, unless you have a chronic medical condition and want to claim from Medicare.

What does a podiatrist do?

Podiatrists are allied health professionals trained in foot and lower limb health. Some podiatrists specialise in different areas of practice, including sports, children and workplace health.

They can help diagnose, prevent and treat a wide range of foot injuries and conditions including:

They can also treat foot problems that come from underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis.

When should I see a podiatrist?

You should see a podiatrist if you feel pain or have problems with your feet, ankles or lower limbs such as discoloured skin/nails, skin rashes, foot odour, foot ulcers or foot injuries.

It is also good to see a podiatrist if you have diabetes, arthritis or tripping and falling issues. They can also help if regular shoe comfort is a problem.

Healthy feet are an important part of your overall wellbeing. Foot problems can affect your quality of life, so see a podiatrist if you need help.

What should I expect during an appointment with a podiatrist?

Your podiatrist will discuss your symptoms and medical history. They may also ask about family illnesses, medicines, and allergies.

They will examine you to diagnose and treat your condition. Take the shoes you normally wear to your first visit, so your podiatrist can check if they fit correctly and are correct for the activities you are doing.

Your podiatrist's may provide:

  • foot care advice
  • specific exercises for you to do
  • custom-made inserts for your shoes called orthotics
  • medicines, skin cream and/or balms to treat skin conditions

Depending on your condition, they can also fit other corrective devices to your shoes, feet or lower legs.

A podiatrist can sometimes use x-rays to diagnose foot problems. They may also use various tools for diagnosing or treating conditions, including:

  • sterilising equipment
  • treatment tables
  • dressings
  • orthotic materials
  • shaping equipment

A podiatrist may also use gait analysis equipment, such as video cameras, to watch how you walk or runs to better understand your movement and posture.

What should I ask a podiatrist?

It is a good idea to have a list of questions to ask your podiatrist — here are some examples:

  • What are the best shoes for me to wear?
  • What changes can I make to help my foot problems?

During the visit, be sure to ask questions if you don't understand what is being said, or what you need to do next.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

Where can I find a podiatrist?

Podiatrists work in private practice or public health clinics, including community health clinics and public hospitals.

To find a podiatrist near you, visit the healthdirect service finder or the Australian Podiatry Association site, or you can talk to your doctor.

Do I need a referral to see a podiatrist?

You don't need a referral from a doctor to see a podiatrist.

Ask your doctor for a referral to a podiatrist if you have a chronic medical condition, as you may be able to claim some costs.

How much will a podiatrist cost?

The cost of seeing a podiatrist varies between practices and for different treatments. It is a good idea to ask about the likely cost when you call to make an appointment. If you have private health insurance, check if it is covered by your plan.

If you have a chronic medical condition, your doctor can develop a chronic disease management (CDM) plan to help ensure you get the help you need. Having a CDM will also mean that Medicare can help cover the costs of some podiatry services. Ask your doctor for more details.

Resources and support

Visit the Australian Podiatry Association to learn more about podiatry and for information fact sheets on foot health and common foot problems.

Learn about the Strong feet program for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, or watch this video.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2023

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