It’s a simple question but not an easy one to answer when it comes to pain in and around the foot area: should I see a Physiotherapist or Podiatrist?
Although Physiotherapists and Podiatrists both assess, diagnose, treat and plan rehabilitation for medical and surgical conditions; there are slight differences between the two professions.
Keep reading below as we highlight the differences between a Physiotherapist and Podiatrist and give you an idea of who to make an appointment with to get the best treatment advice.
What is a Physiotherapist and what is a Podiatrist?
A Physiotherapists’ expertise include a wide-range of health conditions and movement disorders involving the whole body. Their management strategies include (but are not limited to) things such as manual therapy (e.g. massage, joint mobilization) and exercise/movement therapy and prescription.
Alternatively, Podiatrists are considered ‘foot doctors’ due to their expertise with assessing and managing lower leg and ankle/foot conditions. Regardless of the source of your symptoms (e.g. bone, muscle), Podiatrists will provide solutions (e.g. movement re-training, strength/mobility techniques, orthotic therapy) and advice in how to best manage your condition.
What are the similarities between the two?
Despite the differences mentioned above, Physiotherapists and Podiatrists will often work together to manage and plan your rehabilitation. Having an ‘in-house’ Podiatrist at North West Physiotherapy allows easy transition of patient details and smoother discussion between practitioners regarding injury progression. Additionally, an in-house Podiatrist also promotes a quicker, more holistic and comprehensive approach to your care.
How to tell who you should see?
It can be difficult to decide whether to book in with a Physiotherapist or Podiatrist, particularly if your symptoms are in your ankles orfeet. At North West Physiotherapy, our Physiotherapists and Podiatrists work closely together, regularly referring patients from physiotherapy to podiatry and vice-versa. So, if required, you can easily see either practitioner pending your assessment findings.
As a general rule, it is encouraged to see a Podiatrist for specific ankle and/or feet issues. If you are having symptoms in other body areas along with your ankles/feet, we encourage a Physiotherapist review.
How we refer from one practitioner to the other
Podiatry -> Physiotherapy
- Client ‘X’ presents to his Podiatrist regarding under the foot pain coinciding with training for Bridge to Brisbane.
- X has attempted to reduce his training amount but his symptoms are still present, so he sought expert advice.
- Following X’s Podiatrist assessment, he provides the diagnosis of Plantar Fasciopathy. The podiatrist provides some footwear advice along with a custom pair of orthotics for X’s running shoes.
- The Podiatrist also identifies some deficiencies higher up on X’s body, including reduced core stability and gluteal weakness and refers to a physiotherapist for exercise prescription.
- The combination of podiatry and physiotherapy intervention assists X to achieve pain-free running whilst also providing X with some preventative strategies for future injuries.
Physiotherapy -> Podiatry
- Client ‘Y’ presents to Physiotherapy after rolling her ankle in a netball game. The physiotherapist provides Y with various management strategies aimed to assist reducing pain and swelling, improving movement and strength and ultimately, returning to netball.
- Y mentions she has frequently rolled her ankle over the last year, so her Physiotherapist provides a referral to Podiatry. This referral is to further assess Y’s ankle and foot mechanics, along with any further factors which may be contributing to her frequent ankle sprains.
- The Podiatrist may also consider other options including orthotics/inserts, acupuncture/dry needling and foot mobility exercises.
- Podiatry and Physiotherapy again combine to ensure Y’s current ankle sprain is resolved; whilst ensuring a comprehensive plan to prevent further incidents.
Physiotherapy and Podiatry available at North West Physio
At North West Physio we have services available across all clinics and our team will work together to refer you to whoever you need to be seeing without changing where you’re going – it’s all part of our holistic approach to your care.
Podiatrists and Physiotherapists have proficiency to promptly manage the following ankle and foot-related conditions:
- Heel pain
- Achilles tendonitis
- Plantar Fasciitis/Fasciopathy
- ‘Shin Splints’
- Patello-Femoral Pain
- Hot Foot
- Burning Feet
- Basic Bike Fit
- Footwear Advice
Additionally, Podiatrists have particular expertise in performing the below:
- Removal of lesions, calluses, corns etc.
- Administration of local anaesthetic.
- Diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders.
- Surgical Procedures e.g. ingrown toenail removal.
- Gait (i.e. walking) assessments.
- Creation and fitting of personalised, custom orthotics/inserts.
Should I see a Physiotherapist or Podiatrist?
If you’re unsure whether to see a Physiotherapist or Podiatrist to treat your injury or pain, speak to the team at North West Physiotherapy. Call us on (07) 3353 4111.
North West Physiotherapy is your one-stop pain relief and healthy living practice in Brisbane. With three clinics across North Brisbane; Everton Park, Keperra and Eatons Hill, our aim is to provide holistic healthcare solution to suit your specific lifestyle.
Our services include Physiotherapy, Sports Physio, Hydrotherapy, Pilates, Podiatry, Dry Needling, Massage, Womens Health, and Seniors Strength and Balance Classes. Please note that services vary across our clinics.