A podiatrist is a university-trained health professional who diagnoses, treats and prevents problems with feet and lower legs.
Podiatrists can give you advice about foot pain and how to improve walking and running. They can also help you before and after foot surgery, and they can treat foot wounds or sporting injuries.
Paediatric podiatrists specialise in working with children.
Podiatrists work in several different settings including private clinics, community health centres and private and public 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
- sporting injuries
- skin concerns like warts, calluses and corns
- nail conditions like ingrown toenails, toenail infections and odd-shaped toenails
- balance or motor skills concerns
- foot appearance like very high or very low arches, or feet that turn inward or outward
- walking differences like walking on toes or limping
- advice about shoes.
A podiatrist will work with you and your child to develop a treatment plan to help with your child’s foot or walking 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 some information about the following:
- Why you’re going: ask your GP about why your child needs to see a podiatrist.
- Appointments: do you need to make the appointment or will the GP make it for you?
- Waiting lists: how long before you can get an appointment to see the podiatrist?
- Cost: how much will the appointment with the podiatrist cost? It might be expensive, so you could check whether you’re eligible for Medicare, private health insurance or the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
- Location: find out where you have to go to see the podiatrist – for example, a public or private hospital, health centre or private clinic. You might have to travel further than you expect, depending on your child’s needs.
- 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 when you make your appointment. It’s a good idea to write down your questions, so you don’t forget.