A podiatrist is a university-trained and registered health professional who diagnoses, treats and prevents problems with feet and lower legs.
- advise you on foot pain
- help you improve your walking, jumping and running
- advise and treat you before and after foot surgery
- treat foot wounds or sporting injuries.
Paediatric podiatrists specialise in working with children and teenagers.
Podiatrists work in many settings including private clinics, community health centres and public and private hospitals.
If your child has health or development concerns, health professionals like podiatrists are there to care for your child and help you understand your child’s condition and treatment. With the support and expertise of these professionals, you can help your child thrive.
Why your child might see a podiatrist
A podiatrist can help your child with:
- foot and lower leg pain, including pain caused by conditions like Sever’s disease, childhood arthritis and double-jointedness
- sporting injuries
- skin concerns like warts, calluses and corns
- nail conditions like ingrown toenails, toenail infections and odd-shaped toenails
- symptoms of balance or motor skills problems, like tripping, stumbling or not keeping up with others the same age
- foot appearance like very high or very low arches, or feet that turn inward or outward
- gait disorders or limping
- advice about shoes.
A podiatrist will work with you and your child to develop a treatment plan for your child’s foot or movement problems and help your child to stay active.
You don’t need a GP referral to see a podiatrist, but your GP or child and family health nurse is always a good place to start if you’re worried about your child’s health or development. Your GP or child and family health nurse can help you decide about seeing a podiatrist and help you find someone who’s right for your child. You can also go to Australian Podiatry Association – Find a podiatrist.
Before going to a podiatrist
Before seeing the podiatrist, it’s a good idea to find out about things like the following:
- Why you’re going: ask your GP about why your child needs to see a podiatrist.
- Appointments: does your child need an in-person or telehealth appointment?
- Waiting lists: how long before you can get an appointment to see the podiatrist?
- Costs: how much will the appointment with the podiatrist cost? Check whether you’re eligible for Medicare or private health insurance rebates or NDIS support.
- Locations: find out where you have to go to see the podiatrist – for example, a public or private hospital, community health centre or private clinic.
- Qualifications: podiatrists in Australia must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). This means they’ve met all requirements to work as a podiatrist in Australia.
You can ask your GP these and any other questions before you go to the podiatrist. You could also ask the podiatrist’s clinic, community health centre or hospital when you make your child’s appointment. It’s a good idea to write down your questions, so you don’t forget.