The role of the podiatrist

Lynette Lacock, an occupational health sister, highlights the role of the podiatrist in the healthcare team for those living with diabetes.

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You may not be aware of how important it is as a person with diabetes to take care of your feet. Since diabetes can cause poor circulation and neuropathy, it’s essential to have your feet and lower extremities examined by a podiatrist regularly.

Podiatrists are doctors who treat conditions of the lower limbs, including feet and ankles. Therefore, they are the best healthcare professional to see routinely to prevent any future problems relating to feet and diabetes.

The saying prevention is better than cure rings true in this case.  Wounds are often difficult to treat when you have diabetes due to poor blood flow. You need to be vigilant when it comes to preventing sores and infections and you also need to be on the lookout for blisters or sores caused by ill-fitting shoes. If you have even a mild neuropathy in your feet, your shoes may not feel tight even though they are damaging your skin.

What can podiatrists assist you with?

  • Routine foot exams

It’s crucial for all people with diabetes to have a professional exam of their feet and lower extremities on an annual basis. A trained podiatrist will be able to see things that you may have not noticed.

  • Early detection and prevention

Detecting a blister or treating an open wound when it first happens is the key to preventing the problem from getting worse. Most people with diabetes have problems with poor circulation and neuropathy. Neuropathy is caused by nerve damage due to uncontrolled blood glucose. It causes you to have less feeling or sensation in an extremity. If you can’t feel that your shoe is too tight or rubbing in an area, then you can develop a blister or wound without even knowing about it.

  • Mechanical assessment

A podiatrist can watch your gait or the way you walk to see if there is anything out of the ordinary. If there is, they can recommend a specialised shoe or orthotic to help prevent any damage from happening.  

  • Foot wound and ulcer care

If you do get a wound or ulcer, the podiatrist is the best person to treat it. You may also need a course of antibiotics which they can also prescribe. Don’t ignore a blister, wound or open ulcer.  These are difficult to treat in people with diabetes and you want to take care of it immediately to prevent it from getting any worse. 

  • Surgical procedures

Podiatrist can also perform any surgical procedures necessary to treat lower extremity deformities or to debride dead tissue to allow an existing wound to heal.

Multi-disciplinary care

Although podiatrists are the foot specialists, they are part of a team that works together treating diabetic foot and lower extremity problems. They collaborate with vascular surgeons if they feel you need to be referred because of poor circulation. And if they are aware that you are having problems controlling your blood glucose, they may refer you to an endocrinologist. They all form a team that play a part in keeping you healthy.

Now that you understand the role of the podiatrist, make an appointment to see one. Don’t put it off until something is seriously wrong. Rather try to prevent complications before they happen by having routine check-ups and keeping your blood glucose under control.


Sr Lynette Lacock


Sr Lynette Lacock received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and Biofeedback Certification in Neurofeedback in the US. She has over 30 years’ experience in healthcare which has enabled her to work in the US, UK and South Africa. Initially specialising in Cardiothoracic and Neurological ICU, she now works as an Occupational Health Sister. She is passionate about teaching people how to obtain optimum health while living with chronic conditions.

Header image by Adobe Stock


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