The Benefits of Combining Podiatry and Physiotherapy in Treatment Plans

Many patients seek treatment for plantar heel pain (PHP) from a toowoomba podiatrist. In this study, eligible participants seeking care for PHP were randomized to receive usual podiatric treatment alone (uPOD) or uPOD plus physical therapy treatment (uPOD+PT).

Prompt referral to physical therapy enhances the chance of success and reduces costs. This is especially important in older adults.

Gait and Biomechanics Analysis

Gait and biomechanics analysis is a systematic examination of how you stand and walk. It can identify problems with your lower extremities, hips, knees, and ankles that can lead to pain or injury.

The goal of gait analysis is to evaluate the mechanics of your movement and determine whether it’s efficient, balanced, or unstable. We can then use this information to prescribe a treatment plan that improves your gait.

One of the main reasons why combining podiatry with physiotherapy toowoomba is so successful is that our specialists are able to accurately assess your gait and make adjustments accordingly. For example, we can detect overpronation (also known as flat feet) which causes your arches to collapse inwards and is a common cause of foot pain. We can also assess supination which is when your feet roll outwards and is less common than overpronation.

Pathological gait patterns are usually caused by musculoskeletal problems such as soft tissue imbalance, joint alignment or bony abnormalities. These can cause an exaggeration of movement in the opposite limb (hip hiking) during swing phase or an excessive heel strike during stance phase.

Assessment

Podiatrists are able to diagnose and treat a wide range of muscle, bone, tendon and joint conditions in the foot and ankle. This includes fractures, sprains, arthritis and other foot-related skin conditions such as calluses, corns and blisters.

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Physiotherapists are trained to assess and treat the entire musculoskeletal system, utilizing a variety of techniques such as targeted exercises, stretches and manual techniques such as joint manipulation, dry needling, etc. Often, a patient’s foot and ankle problem may stem from issues higher up in the body such as reduced core stability or gluteal weakness, so it is important that a podiatrist identifies these problems.

At North West Physiotherapy, our Physiotherapists and Podiatrists work closely together, regularly referring patients from physiotherapy to podiatry and vice versa. This allows for a smoother transition of patient details and discussion of injury progression, whilst also promoting a quicker, more holistic and comprehensive approach to your treatment. The combination of a podiatry and physiotherapy approach is therefore the ideal solution for many injuries.

Treatment

Physiotherapy offers a variety of modalities and techniques that are used to treat the foot and ankle pains. Physical Therapy is a conservative alternative to surgery and focuses on strengthening and stretching to alleviate pain by addressing the root causes of the pain rather than masking it with medication.

Podiatrists may perform a variety of manual treatments to decrease muscle tension and improve range of motion. These may include manipulations, mobilizations and acupuncture.

Eligible individuals with PHP were randomized to receive usual podiatric care (uPOD) or usual podiatric care plus PT. The primary outcome was change in the FAAM activities of daily living subscale score at 6 months. Secondary outcomes included the NPRS and a patient-reported success scale. Per-protocol analysis was performed analyzing those individuals who completed treatment. The results of this randomized clinical trial showed no additional benefit of uPOD+PT compared with uPOD alone on the primary FAAM outcome measure. However, there were significant differences between groups on other secondary outcomes and a patient-reported success scale.

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Follow-Up

Each individual’s foot structure, gait pattern and medical history are unique. Podiatrists can create individualized treatment plans that cater to these specific factors, maximizing the opportunity for successful outcomes.

Physiotherapy (also known as physical therapy) is a healthcare profession that uses physical methods such as exercise, massage and electrical modalities to promote healing, reduce pain, improve mobility and restore function, independence and quality of life. Podiatrists can refer patients for physiotherapy to help with pain relief and recovery from injuries, as well as reduce chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Those who were referred for early physical therapy by their podiatrist had a more rapid response to the intervention than those who were not. This is a significant finding given that the most common reasons for not completing the treatment in this randomized clinical trial were time constraints and concerns about cost. A secondary per-protocol analysis was performed, analyzing only those individuals who completed their treatment.