This week is #UKFootHealthWeek.
Our feet work very hard every day, on an average day a person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps, bringing a walking force equal to several hundred tonnes through your feet.
The average person walks around 115,000 miles in a lifetime – more than four times the circumference of the globe. Walking along with a sensible diet has been found to help with weight loss and keep it off. Each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints and a complex system of more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments. One quarter of all the bones in the human body are in your feet. There are over 7,000 nerve endings in each foot. With all that in mind you need a very special health care professional to help keep your feet healthy.
Podiatrists are healthcare professionals who have been trained to diagnose and treat abnormal conditions of the foot, ankle and leg. Their main purpose is to improve the mobility, independence and quality of life of patients, through prevention, diagnosis and treatment of foot and lower limb conditions. They can give you and your family advice on how to look after your feet and what type of shoes to wear. Nationally, podiatrists work in a variety of places including GP surgeries, Community Hospitals, nursing or residential homes, Diabetes centres or in certain circumstances, the patient’s own home. Podiatrists work with a team of people including nurses, doctors, surgeons, orthotists, the voluntary services and private podiatrists to ensure continuity of care.
Within North Cumbria, Podiatrists are based in community hospitals and health centres across the county. The Podiatry department has approximately 40 staff, including advanced podiatrists, specialist podiatrists, podiatry assistants and administrative staff, who arrange appointments and organise the podiatry caseload. As well as offering episodes of care for specific conditions such as ingrowing toenails, the Podiatry department provides a high-risk service, offering life-long treatment for patients with certain conditions including poor blood supply or previous ulceration to help prevent amputations. Our podiatrists also specialise in certain fields which require particular management.
The podiatry team manage conditions such as foot ulcer and foot infection, treatment may be offered within the community or at one of our acute care settings. To prevent foot ulcers people with diabetes should have their feet assessed at least once a year to make sure they have good blood supply to keep the skin and nails healthy and good feeling in their feet to make sure they feel any cuts or other injuries. People with diabetes should check their feet every day on the top, bottom, heels and in between the toes. Someone who has diabetes should seek advice if they notice any bleeding, open wounds, pain or swelling in their feet.
Musculoskeletal podiatry is a specialist area of podiatry which involves the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the lower limb which can make walking painful or cause foot deformity. A musculoskeletal podiatrist mainly provides conservative treatments such as footwear advice, orthosis/insoles to improve the way the joints and muscles in your feet work, as well as stretching and exercise programmes. A musculoskeletal podiatrist works as part of a larger healthcare team. This means they will often work closely with other health professionals such as the orthotics team, physiotherapists, paediatricians, the rheumatology, and the orthopaedics team.
Grace Messenger, Head of Podiatry at NCIC, said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, the podiatry team has been working hard to provide care for patients who are at high risk of lower limb amputation and acute foot problems, such as nail surgery for ingrowing toenails. “We have also had a number of staff redeployed to support other services, therefore, we have not been able to offer the same service provision we would prior to covid.
“We are aware this has resulted in a backlog of work and are going to be prioritising patients according to their medical or foot health needs as we try to address this.”
If you have a foot problem and you want to seek advice you can self-refer or ask your GP/healthcare provider to refer you and we will triage your referral based on the information provided.