Podiatry – it’s not Solely About Feet!

09 Aug 2016 Foot Pain

It’s reasonable that most people think of podiatry as a profession devoted to treating the foot alone. And even those who are aware of podiatry’s role in treating complaints that present outside the foot know little about the treatments the modern podiatrist offers. This article looks at just three of these treatments, and at the complaints they address.

Foot Mobilisation Technique

FMT has only recently been added to the podiatrist’s armamentarium. Although chiropractors and osteopaths have been using mobilisation techniques for many years, its use to treat chronic foot problems is a comparatively new development.

Although the range of movement in many of the foot joints is quite limited, our feet work best when all their joints are free throughout that range, so that loads are evenly distributed. FMT treats specific ankle and foot joints that have become stiff and immobile, through a gentle and painless process of mobilisation of the joints in a logical succession. When combined with stretch-and-strengthen routines it returns proper articulation to the foot, with consequent abatement of pain.

Here are just a few of the complaints for which FMT is indicated:

  • Numb toes
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Sesamoiditis
  • Pain in the heel
  • Generalised foot aching.

Shin Splints

shin pain

Shin splints can be a mystifying complaint. Known to Medicine as medial tibial stress syndrome, it’s a painful inflammation that develops along the inner edge of the tibia, one of the two bones of the lower leg. It usually arises after unaccustomed exercise, particularly where poor footwear has provided inadequate shock-absorption. Although the pain is experienced in the lower leg, it’s often the result of, or at least exacerbated by bio-mechanical impairment within the foot, or between the foot and the ankle. Bony changes may be responsible for shin splints, but this is rare – the usual cause is muscular.

Podiatrists begin treatment of shin splints with a comprehensive assessment of the biomechanics of the foot, ankle and lower leg. This reveals any anomalies which could cause overwork of certain muscles. Treatments include:


  • Icing for 10-20 minutes several times per day
  • Resting the affected limbs
  • Anti-inflammatory analgesics

Long Term:

  • Advice on suitable footwear and remedial exercise
  • Suitable stretches
  • Functional orthoses.

Dry Needling

Dry needling involves the use of acupuncture needles, but the two disciplines are otherwise unrelated. In dry needling, needles are inserted into regions of muscles that are in spasm, or otherwise misbehaving.

Many of the painful conditions which are experienced as “skeletal” are in fact the consequence of small damaged bodies of muscle tissue that have become locked in contraction. The exact mechanism by which dry needling operates is still not clear, but it appears possible that the needle provokes a galvanic response in the disordered muscle tissue, causing a brief convulsion, after which the muscle returns to normal with its function restored. Combined with a suitable stretching regime, dry needling can produce dramatic relief for many conditions believed to be intractable, or requiring lengthy therapy.


These are just three of the treatment modalities a podiatrist can deliver. Others include foot care for diabetics and treatment of knee pain. If you would like to discuss treatment for your complaint, send us a contact request here.