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Frequently Asked Questions of Our London Chiropodist

Welcome to Westmount Foot and Orthotic Clinic’s FAQ page. While this page provides some answers to our most commonly asked questions, it is not a definitive resource. For assistance with a specific question or concern, please feel free to contact our London office at any time. This page also contains a glossary of common terms used in the field of chiropody.


Who is a chiropodist?

Licenced chiropodists are professionally identified using an abbreviated title of “D.Ch.” following his or her surname. Chiropodists undertake an intensive three-year program that covers topics such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, biomechanics, pharmacology, anesthesiology, dermatology, sports medicine, microbiology, physical therapy, pediatrics, orthotics, medicine, and surgery.


The practice of chiropody involves the assessment, prevention, and treatment of foot-related conditions and disorders.


These treatments and therapies usually include orthotic or palliative devices. Under the Chiropody Act of 1991, chiropodists have primary care status in the province of Ontario and are licenced to provide services including:

  • Cutting of subcutaneous tissue to treat disorders of the foot
  • Administration of medicines by injection into the foot
  • Prescribing relevant medications


Did you know?

Even though the human foot makes up only a small amount of the body’s total mass and area, it comprises 25% of the body’s bones. And, connecting this system of bones is a complex network of ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Just one single step requires the synchronization of all these bones and connective tissue. Yet, most of us perform this complex feat 4,000 to 10,000 times each day across a variety of surfaces. In an average lifetime our feet will travel between 240,000 and 320,000 kilometres—that's the equivalent of walking around the Earth six to eight times!


Whether you’re a child, senior, adolescent or Olympian, foot health is always of primary importance.


Do I have to wear orthotics for a long time?

For children, orthotics may be required for a short period to ensure proper bone growth and muscle formation. Yet, like prescription glasses, many adults may be need to wear orthotics over the course of their lifetime in order to receive the benefits of treatment.


Why am I required to give my medical history to the chiropodist?

Like many health professions, your medical history is useful in ensuring proper treatment.


What kind of shoes should I buy?

The general rule is to buy shoes that have laces, a firm heel area, and flexibility in the ball area.


I have a heel spur. How do I get rid of the pain?

Most heel spurs can be treated with orthotics.


Why are my heels cracking?

Most cracked heels are caused by wearing backless shoes, walking barefoot, as well as excessive pressure on the foot.


What's the best treatment for a corn on my toe?

Corns are often caused by tight-fitting footwear. Therefore, do not wear tight shoes, or have the shoes stretched out in the area causing the corn. You should also see a chiropodist to have the corn removed and the affected area appropriately padded.


What are the concerns with a pedicure?

Not all nail salons use sterilizing equipment to kill bacteria, fungus, and yeast that grow on nails. Pedicures are actually a leading cause of fungal nail infections. That’s why it’s important to only visit reputable and licenced salons.


Why should diabetics be more concerned about their feet?

Diabetics have a compromised nervous pain system and cannot feel pain, especially in the feet. They may have protruding nails in their feet and yet not be aware of it. This can lead to a secondary infection, which can result in an amputation in some instances.


Why are custom orthotics so expensive?

Like prescription eyeglasses, custom-made orthotics are not mass-produced, but specifically designed to suit the needs of each individual. This contributes to the overall price per unit in fabricating custom orthotics.


Custom-made insoles are specially designed to correct structural problems, or to maximize your comfort. Buying insoles from a drug or a shoe store is generally not recommended, as not all feet are alike, and may not solve the underlying condition.


Can orthotics correct the structural deformities of my feet?

In children, orthotics can resolve some problems; however, since adult’s bones are already formed they are generally used for alleviating pain, as well as preventing further damage.


Can shoes cause foot disorders?

Most foot disorders are caused by poor quality or ill-fitting shoes. Properly fitted, quality shoes can go a long way in providing the required comfort and protection, while minimizing damage to the feet. If you should have problems with your feet, always seek the advice of a chiropodist.


Here are some guidelines to be used when shopping for shoes:

  • Try shoes at the end of the day when your feet are the most swollen
  • Do not try to conform your feet to the shape and size of shoes
  • Fit shoes to your largest foot as most people have one foot larger than the other
  • Don’t just go by the size of the shoe as actual sizes vary by brand
  • Have your feet measured every time before your purchase - this is especially true for children
  • If shoes are too tight, do not buy them expecting to break them in
  • Avoid high heeled shoes with pointed or narrowed toe areas, because the pressure under the ball of the foot increases as heel height increases, thereby putting greater pressure on the forefoot as it is forced into the pointed toe box
  • Your longest toe should have a half-inch of free space between its tip and the inside edge of the shoe
  • Walk around in the shoes to ensure they fit well and feel comfortable
  • Make certain you are able to freely wiggle all of your toes in the shoes you select

Glossary of Terms

Arch - The arch of the foot is the area of the bottom of the foot between the heel pad and toe pad.

Bunion - an abnormal prominence on the inner aspect of the first metatarsal head, with bursal formation, and resulting in lateral or valgus displacement of the great toe. Bunions can be caused by congenital malformation of the bony structure of the foot or by joint disease such as rheumatoid arthritis and are aggravated by wearing high heeled shoes with pointed toes. When the shoes do not fit properly they force the great toe toward the outer side of the foot. The result is continued pressure on the joint where the great toe articulates with the first metatarsal head. Chronic irritation causes a build-up of soft tissue and underlying bone in the area. Symptoms are swelling, redness, and pain. Mild cases can be relieved by changing to properly fitting shoes. If there is severe pain making ambulation difficult or impossible, anti-inflammatory agents may be effective. Surgical correction (bunionectomy) is indicated when all other measures fail.

Flatfoot - a condition in which one or more arches of the foot have flattened out.

Forefoot - the front part of the foot.

Fungus - a general term for a group of organisms (mushrooms, yeasts, moulds, etc.) that reproduce by means of spores. Fungi are present in the soil, air, and water, but only a few species can cause disease. Although the fungal diseases develop slowly, are difficult to diagnose, and are resistant to treatment, they are rarely fatal except for systemic infections, which can be life-threatening, especially for immunocompromised patients.

Gait analysis - evaluation of the manner or style of walking, usually done by observing the individual as he walks naturally in a straight line.

Metatarsus - the part of the foot between the ankle and the toes, its skeleton being the five bones (metatarsals) extending from the tarsus to the phalanges.

Morton's neuralgia - pain in the metatarsus of the foot.

Morton's toe - tenderness or pain in the metatarsal area of the foot and in the third and fourth toes caused by pressure on a neuroma of the branch of the medial plantar nerve supplying these toes. The neuroma is produced by chronic compression of the nerve between the metatarsal heads. Called also plantar neuroma and Morton's disease, foot, or neuralgia.

Pes cavus - a foot with an abnormally high longitudinal arch, either congenital or caused by contractures or disturbed muscle balance.

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