How can Podiatry help?

Podiatry or Chiropody? Historically our profession was called Chiropody but today the titles Podiatry and Podiatrist are used. We still embrace treatments which were undertaken by Chiropodists together with additional modern techniques. Podiatrists are trained to diagnose and treat foot problems independently from any other medical practitioner.

Ingrowing or ingrown toenails

A true ingrowing nail occurs when the edge of the nail pierces the neighbouring skin and becomes embedded there. Pain, redness, swelling, and infection are common. An ingrowing toe nail can be corrected by your Podiatrist using standard Podiatry instruments in a routine appointment. However many patients benefit from nail surgery where the ingrowing section of nail is removed under local anaesthetic and the nail bed in this localised area is treated to prevent regrowth of the offending piece of nail. Please view our nail surgery fact sheets which you can download.

Painful toenails, thick toenails and infected toenails

Toe nails can give pain and discomfort even when they do not actually pierce the skin. Corns may occur under or at the edge of a nail which will cause the toe to feel sore. This subungual corn will need gentle removal.

Thick and disfigured toe nails become painful as they press on the skin around and underneath them, including neighbouring toes. Additionally they look unsightly and are very difficult to manage without professional help.

Toe nails may become infected by a fungus and can appear white, yellow or green and crumbly. Fungal nails (Onychomycosis) require advice and management. Skin conditions such as psoriasis will lead to problem nails benefitting from treatment from your Podiatrist.


These are hard, localised lumps of skin which can occur on toes, between toes or on the bottom of the forefoot of heel. Typically hard corns occur on pressure areas, soft corns between toes whilst seed corns are found on the heel or forefoot. Painful corns are often mistaken for verrucae (caused by a skin virus) and patients seek advice when verruca treatments they have bought have been ineffective. It is important for any painful lump on your foot to have the correct diagnosis and treatment.

Callus and thick or hard skin

This may occur on the forefoot and heel, distorting the skin structure and leading to discomfort and pain. Callus and hard skin on or around the heels may lead to cracked heels and split heels which are painful and can become infected. Infection, usually bacterial, once in the foot may lead to cellulitis. Careful treatment will lead to healing of the splits and cracks and restoration of the normal profile of the skin.

Diabetes and the diabetic foot

Diabetes can lead to complications in the feet including neuropathy (neuropathic feet have lost their sensation) and ischaemia (reduced blood flow which slows healing). Deformities of the feet and toes, ulceration and infection may also occur.

Podiatrists will provide ongoing prophylactic care for people with diabetes. We will also monitor you for complications of diabetes such as neuropathy or reduced circulation. Should active problems develop we will provide treatment to resolve them. People with diabetes need to take particular care with their feet.

Foot pain and structural or mechanical foot problems

Pain, as discussed, is often caused by corns, callus, cracks and splits in the skin, ingrowing nails, thickened and infected nails. However, mechanical forces may cause conditions such as :-

Musculoskeletal or biomechanical factors affecting the feet, ankles and lower limb can be redressed using orthoses or specialised insoles which control motion and forces underlying these conditions. Your Podiatrist can prescribe and fit orthoses and advise on appropriate footwear choices.

Technical terms used in musculoskeletal Podiatry include supination and pronation. Exercise routines may also be recommended such as stretching for the Achilles tendon.

Bunions, hammer toes, mallet, claw or retracted toes describe common foot deformities which may lead to problems. When they are problematic, they can be helped with digital orthoses such as toe splints or toe dividers or toe spacers.

Your Podiatrist can advise products to help your foot health. An emollient, or moisturiser, best suited to help with dry skin. Anti-fungal products to resolve athletes foot or treat fungal nails.

Complex foot problems

Some problems which present may require blood tests, scans or an x-ray. Psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and osteoarthritis often present with pain in the feet. Where conditions like these are suspected we will refer you for the support which you require.

Society of Podiatrists