Should I see a Physiotherapist or Podiatrist?

February 15, 2020

When faced with injury or pain affecting the lower limbs, there is often confusion about which practitioner you should go to – a physiotherapist or a podiatrist?

There is no competition, really. Both disciplines have certain specialties that are dedicated to helping you perform at your best. More so, at some point in the patient’s care plan, it is most likely that the two professions will overlap.

What is a Physiotherapist?

Physiotherapy covers a wide range of health conditions and is not specialized in one area of the body. It aims to restore and maintain an individual’s mobility, function, and well-being.

Physiotherapists manage injuries, illnesses, and disabilities through movement and exercise, manual therapies (e.g. massage, joint mobilization), and patient education. A general practitioner may refer you to a physiotherapist if you have an injury that affects how you function every day. Here are some examples:

  • Pain in the neck or back area caused by a condition affecting the muscles and skeleton
  • Arthritis or issues concerning the bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments
  • Loss of mobility due to brain or spine trauma, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson’s
  • After-effects of amputation or hip replacement surgery
  • Provision of customized foot orthotics
  • Pelvic, bladder, and bowel problems related to childbirth
  • Muscle fatigue, swelling, or stiffness, or loss of muscle strength related to palliative care
  • Disability as a result of a heart condition
  • Lung problems that affect movement such as asthma

Physiotherapy takes a ‘whole person’ approach to health so it involves a patient’s lifestyle in general. It promotes awareness, empowerment, and participation of the individual in their treatment. When you go to a physiotherapist, you can expect the practitioner to review your medical history, do an assessment and diagnosis, and set a treatment plan.

What is a Podiatrist?

Podiatrists specialize in treating conditions that affect the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. They are the so-called ‘foot doctors”.

Your feet are complex anatomical structures, which is why they require expert care. Each normal foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 19 muscles, and 107 ligaments. A podiatrist will help with the following:

  • Common injuries of the foot or ankle, such as fractures and sprains
  • Provision of customized foot orthotics
  • Nail disorders (e.g. infection caused by a fungus or an ingrown toenail)
  • Treat bunions, hammertoes, calluses, hard skin and blisters
  • Diabetic care to prevent foot amputation
  • Arthritis or the inflammation, swelling, and wear and tear on feet joints
  • Feet that point inward or look flat or when toes don’t line upright
  • Morton’s neuroma or nerve problems of the foot

A session with a podiatrist involves a thorough assessment to pinpoint the underlying cause. The doctor will then explain the treatment options available and home care to prevent the same problem from occurring again.

Podiatry and Physiotherapy Clinics in Dubai

Nevertheless, physiotherapists and podiatrists will often work together when necessary in order to manage and plan your rehabilitation. For instance, a patient with lower back pain related to postural overload will most likely need a physiotherapist to loosen the lower back and hips. But will be referred to a podiatrist for a more specific lower limb strengthening.

If you’re looking for foot physiotherapy, therapeutic massage, osteopathy, foot orthotics, and other related services in UAE, you can trust the health team at Scandinavian Physiotherapy Center. Schedule a session today by calling +971 56 366 7904 or leave them a message here.