Podiatrists work closely with doctors, shoemakers, and physiotherapists, with a doctor usually refering patients to certified podiatrists on apparitions such as the diabetic foot, so that treatment costs for curative foot care are often covered by health insurance. Since 2012, the podiatry can be learned in a three-year study program, where the professional title of the podiatrist is protected by law and the abuse is sanctioned with a fine of up to 2500 €.
What is the podiatry?The podiatry corresponds to the medical pedicure and thus a health professional category, which deals with the curative and preventive treatment of the feet.
The term podiatry summarizes curative and preventative measures of professional foot care performed by a non-medical body. The podiatry meets dermatological, surgical, orthopedic and diabetological requirements with regard to the foot, whereby the term podiatrist within Germany corresponds to a protected medical profession.
Thus, only persons who have been officially authorized to do so may identify themselves as podiatrists. The podiatry works closely with doctors, shoemakers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, with most podiatrists holding a cash register. Podiatrists work in hospitals or in their own podiatry practices. Since 2012, there is a separate degree course in podiatry, which lasts three years in the standard period of study.
Function, effect & goals
Podiatry is extremely versatile. Nearly every foot-related complaint has specific applications in this area. However, the diabetic foot syndrome is so far the only disease for which patients can receive from the doctor a drug prescription for podiatric treatment, which can be submitted to the health insurance. Currently, the diabetic foot syndrome as a consequence of diabetes mellitus is responsible for around two-thirds of all amputations performed in Germany.
Due to circulatory disorders occur in the context of diabetic disease wounds on the lower leg and especially on the foot, but also nerve damage occur. In part, formed in the context of the syndrome, a so-called Charcot foot, which means there is a destruction of the joints and bones of the foot. Anyone who is sent to a podiatrist on account of the diabetic foot syndrome receives curative treatments there, which are fully covered by the health insurance. These treatments focus primarily on wound care and care. In addition to a lukewarm foot bath, this care also includes the conscientious skincare of the affected foot, with urea-containing creams in particular being used to prevent cracks in the long run.
After the professional footbath, the toe spaces are carefully rubbed dry by the podiatrist so as not to leave athlete's foot any chance. The podiatrist then closely inspects the foot for injuries and other pathological conditions to get an overall picture. He discovers any inflammation and ulcers as well as open wounds, bruises and blisters or nail problems. Subsequently, the podiatrist takes care of the phenomena thus discovered.
He takes over, for example, the nail and callus care of the affected foot. As a rule, he does not use any sharp objects as this would cause even more damage to the sensitive foot. Instead, he resorts to nail files and pumice stones and works in addition with skin-care salves, which are given to the soles of the feet and the back of the feet, but not in the spaces between the toes. In addition to the treatment, the podiatrist may provide the patient with helpful tips for daily foot care at home.
Risks, side effects & dangers
A podiatric foot treatment is not associated with any risks or side effects for the patient as long as it is performed by a competent person. Especially the opening foot bath is designed for relaxation, so that most patients find their visit to the podiatrist as pleasant as possible. However, podiatry treatments are relatively time-consuming and take around 40 minutes to complete with individual consultation, inspection and care of the foot.
If the doctor orders complex pelvic treatments for a specific complaint, then the podiatrist may even take up to an hour to complete. Doctor-prescribed complex treatments with professional podiatrists are usually not one-off events, but take place at regular intervals. Most are arranged around three individual sessions per month. The treating podiatrist regularly consults with the referring physician to get an overview of the situation and to report the doctor in return of his findings and treatment measures.
For such medically prescribed podiatric visits, the treatment costs are borne by the health insurance. However, this only applies if it is a certified podiatry practice or if the treatment takes place directly in the hospital. On the other hand, those who visit a podiatrist without a medical referral note and only for prevention, usually do not receive this visit from the health insurance company, but have to raise the total amount on their own.
Although podiatric treatment can be done during hospitalization, such treatment is outpatient by itself. In other words, anyone who is in hospital anyway may receive a podiatric treatment in hospital. However, only for a podiatric treatment, no one is admitted to hospital.