Looking for a Chiropodist or a Foot Health Practioner - What's The Difference
As a Foot Health Practitioner, I often get asked – what’s the difference between a Chiropodist, a Podiatrist and a Foot Health Practitioner?
The Foot Health Practioner (FHP)
The FHPs abilities and skills far exceed those trained merely to cut toenails, although this is one of the services I provide. The work of the FHP is non-invasive and focuses on the lower limbs and feet with minor ailments.
Like any Chiropodist, I will assess foot positioning on walking and also do a thorough examination to evaluate the structure and condition of the lower limbs and feet. As a FHP I perform minor external surgery without injected analgesia, for treatments such as corn removal or ingrowing toenails. All of this and more falls within the remit of a Foot Health Practitioner.
Many patients require routine foot maintenance, some merely because they can no longer reach their feet themselves. Others may have problems with their sight, obesity, pregnancy, diabetes, arthritic hands and other debilitating conditions.
The FHP is recognised and respected by colleagues, having ethics that are consistent with other medical professions. Our training allows us to contribute to your healthcare by screening and alerting other health practitioners to potential problems, such as Diabetes, poor circulation, infections, ulceration and other conditions requiring an onward referral.
To enable any treatment to be executed safely and without complications, a full medical assessment is carried out on the first visit. I follow strict hygiene procedures and communicate with you frequently regarding your care, treatment and follow up. I am trained to manage and care for minor wounds and provide dressings and padding as required.
As an FHP’s I undertake regular professional development to update and expand my skills in line with current practice and I’m also a member of the Alliance of Private Sector Workers, an accredited register that is independently vetted and approved by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA).
In the UK, Podiatry is the new name for Chiropody; it is the internationally accepted term for a profession where disease and pathological conditions of the feet and lower limbs are treated. A Podiatrist is likely to take on patients with more complex problems than a Foot Health Practitioner, and in such cases, as the FHP I will often refer back to a Podiatrist or Chiropodist where specialist knowledge is required.
Some Podiatrists choose to specialise in areas such as Paediatric Development, Vascular Neuropathy and Diabetes.
The full skills of a practicing Chiropodist are usually only required by a small percentage of the general public presenting with foot problems. Podiatrist’s and Chiropodist are regulated by the HCPC, a regulator set up to protect the public. To do this, the HCPC keep a Register of health and care professionals who are required to meet their standards for their training, professional skills, behaviour and health.
What can I expect at my first appointment?
I start by recording relevant personal details and medical history, (all records are kept confidential).
I then proceed to give your feet a thorough foot health check and discuss your requirements and treatment plan.
Once treatment is complete, I can answer any questions you might have and relevant advice is given. The treatment concludes with a foot massage.
What Is A Foot Health Practitioner?
Foot Health Practitioners deliver routine foot care wherever it is needed. They are trained to recognise and assess foot conditions, treat appropriately and refer when necessary.
Many people need simple foot care to maintain mobility and quality of life. Being overweight or diabetic increases the need, both of these conditions are rapidly increasing in prevalence in the population.
Working as independent practitioners in the private sector, Foot Health Practitioners deliver their skills in a wide range of settings.
They work with other health care professionals wherever necessary for the well-being of their clients. They may visit individual clients in their own homes, attend clients in Rest Homes and Nursing Homes, or visit industrial and commercial sites for the benefit of employees.
Many Foot Health Practitioners establish their own surgery-based premises in order to provide a service to a local population.
What is the difference between a Foot Health Practitioner, a Chiropodist and a Podiatrist?
Foot Health Practitioners and Podiatrists both have important roles to play in the community. Nowadays there are fewer Chiropodists in the community.
In 2005/6 the terms Chiropodist/Chiropody/Podiatrist/Podiatry became “protected” following government legislation. This meant that the schools that used to train Chiropodists then had to re-name their graduates, so from mid-2004 onwards the Foot Health Practitioner came into existence!
Foot Health Practitioners provide the routine foot care that the majority of people require on a regular basis ie. Toenail Trimming, Ingrown Toenails (that do not require surgery), Corns, Calluses, Fungal Infections, Verrucae, Diabetics (who have their condition under control) etc. They are privately trained (ie. self-funded) to diploma level. Some Foot Health Practitioners undertake post-graduate studies to qualify in bio-mechanics, Cryo-surgery etc. and some even go on to undertake Podiatry degrees.
Podiatrists provide care to “at risk” patients ie. Diabetics whose condition is out of control, surgical procedures, biomechanics etc. Very often a Podiatrist will specialise in particular area. They can also provide the more routine footcare that the Foot Health Practitioner provides. They are trained and funded within the NHS and trained to degree level. They can be registered with the Health and Care Professional Council (HCPC). Foot Health Practitioners do have the option to register with the Accredited Register of Foot Health Practitioners which is overseen by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care (who also oversee the HCPC).
There are also numerous other Registers available to the Foot Health Practitioner to register with.
Tips On Foot Care
Wash your feet often – Keep your feet clean by washing them every day in warm soapy water, but don’t soak them, as this might destroy your skin’s natural oils.
Dry your feet well – Dry your feet thoroughly after washing them, especially between the toes, which is where fungal infections like athlete’s foot can develop.
Moisturise and file – If your skin is dry, apply moisturising cream all over the foot, except for between the toes. Gently remove hard skin and calluses with a pumice stone or foot file. Don’t overdo it or you could damage fresh skin underneath.
Cut toenails carefully – Trim your toenails regularly using proper nail clippers. Cut straight across, never at an angle or down the edges. This can cause ingrown toenails.
Shoe shop in the afternoon – Shop for shoes in the afternoon. Your feet swell as the day goes on and if shoes fit in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest, you can be assured they’ll always be comfortable.
Footwear tips for work – Depending on the type of work you do, you may need to wear specialist footwear, such as shoes with hard reinforced toecaps or anti-slip soles. If you wear high heels at work, wear comfortable shoes on your way to work and change into your heels when you get there.
Limit time wearing high heels – Only wear high heels and pointed shoes for special occasions. If you wear heels, try to vary your heel height. Wearing a heel that’s higher than a couple of inches (about 5cm) on a regular basis can damage your feet.
Wear the right shoes – Always wear the right shoes for the job – so not sandals for mountain climbing.
Change socks daily to avoid foot odour – As well as changing your socks regularly, wear socks made of cotton, wool or bamboo. These allow your feet to breathe and help keep them at the right temperature. Specialist socks are also available for different sporting activities. Wear socks that fit. Make sure your socks fit properly, paying particular attention to the width for your foot and ankle. If you have swollen feet, look for socks designed to accommodate your swelling. Elastic-free socks are available to help prevent them cutting into your leg. If you have difficulty feeling your feet properly (neuropathy), make sure there are no knobbly seams inside your socks that may rub and damage your skin. Turning your socks inside out can help prevent rubbing.
Protect your feet in communal areas – Wear flip-flops or pool shoes to avoid getting athlete’s foot and verrucas when using public areas such as gym showers or swimming pools.
Take care with flip-flops – Avoid wearing flip-flops all the time. They don’t support your feet and can give you arch and heel pain if you wear them too much.
A Foot Health Practitioner/Podiatrist can help if you have a problem such as unexplained foot pain.
It’s very important to have your feet checked regularly by a foot health practitioner if you have a health conditon that affects your feet, such as diabetes, poor circulation or a low immune system.