What Does a Podiatrist Do?

A podiatrist diagnoses and treats foot disorders and disabilities. The primary objective is to return the foot to optimum health as quickly as possible. This is achieved by combining a thorough examination of the feet with skilled practical treatment, padding, insoles, orthotics and foot health advice.

When you visit a podiatrist the type and duration of examination depends on what is wrong with your feet – so how you describe your problem is very important.

A biomechanical examination and gait analysis is an assessment of the structure and function of the foot and the effect this has on the lower limbs. This takes about 1 hour and is usually necessary to assess sports-related injuries, the effect of arthritis or children’s foot problems. This enables the podiatrist to plan an appropriate treatment programme, provide detailed foot care advice or to prescribe the correct shoe, insole or orthotic.

If your problem is more medical than mechanical then your podiatrist will consider other factors.


Andrew has taught at the University as well as providing podiatry services in South Africa since 1977. Twice chair of the Podiatry Association of South Africa and a commentator on care of your feet on both radio and television he now works in private practice in Cape Town and Hout Bay.