Physiotherapy and Podiatry – an integrated approach to healthcare

What is the difference between a Physiotherapist and Podiatrist? Who should I see?



Physiotherapists and podiatrists are working more closely together than ever before. Both disciplines have certain specialities but there is also a lot of overlap between the two professions. At Bluff/North Road Physio we work closely with our Podiatrist Matt to improve patient care.


Physiotherapists may have certain areas of specialisation or interest – we all know how good Phil is at treating headaches, Dave and Will at treating vertigo issues and Qianer’s Pilates expertise! However, in general, physiotherapists will treat all body areas within a private practice setting. Podiatrists like Matt have focused and fine-tuned their skills to become experts of the lower limb. Our lower limbs are our load bearers which is why we hear of so many people with knee, foot, hip, and ankle injuries. In fact, we see almost as many patients with knee pain as low back pain!


Podiatrists also specialise in areas that branch out of the musculoskeletal realms that a physio works within. For example, they treat calluses, corns, bunions and cracked heels. Diabetic patients should all have a podiatrist to treat and check for ongoing foot issues related to the disease. Podiatrists also design and modify Orthotics to treat misalignment of the foot and lower limb. This may assist in the treatment of foot, ankle, knee, hip or even lower back pain. Our podiatrist Matt has a background in several sports and has been involved with the De La Salle Football Club, so he also has a special interest in sporting injuries of the lower limb.


So how do physio and podiatry align when treating complex conditions? A perfect example is a patient presenting with lower back pain. Lets say your physio is treating you for lower back pain and feels that it is in response to postural overload. You may need physio treatment to loosen the lower back and hips and potentially the mid back as well. Your physio would then consider body areas above and below the site of pain that could be contributing to postural misalignment. This could include flat feet, which has led to locking of the knees and over-arching of the back. This is where the podiatrist can consider whether orthotics or more specific lower limb strengthening could help in preventing the reoccurrence of your back pain.


Check back soon for a full video explanation on the relationship between Physiotherapy and Podiatry.

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