04 January 2024

In this month’s eLearning spotlight, we spoke to Dr Gordon Hendry who has a clinical background in podiatry and works with the musculoskeletal health group at Glasgow Caledonian University. He gave us insights into podiatrists working in rheumatology.

Can you tell us about your background?

I trained as a podiatrist and started working for the NHS. I applied for a PhD scholarship in the diabetes area and was successful at a subsequent interview in the field of JIA.

After spending a couple of years in Sydney, Australia which was a great experience, I moved back to Glasgow to take a post as a reader in musculoskeletal health and co-lead of the research group.

My role is 90% research and 10% teaching. I work closely with my clinical colleagues to recruit to studies and I'm always looking to collaborate to have the opportunity to work more closely with Rheumatologists.

What key messages do you have for Rheumatologists?

They shouldn’t forget to ask patients about foot pain! We know from our studies that patients don’t feel comfortable about raising their foot pain unless they are prompted. They often leave consultations unsure about what to do next with pain which has real-world effects. They can’t walk without discomfort which impacts for health. I urge clinicians to ask about foot pain and examine feet.

What key messages do you have for podiatrists working in Rheumatology?
There is currently an increasing number of specialists working in Rheumatology.

When you start courses like the BSR core skills course, this can be helpful, and I'd also recommend an ultrasound course as this helps to develop skills that will be useful when practicing.

It's valuable to reach out to more experienced colleagues especially if you are working on your own in a department to share ideas and practice. Getting involved in research is a great way to collaborate.

What is the RADAI-F5? How should we be using it in clinical practice?

This is a tool that can be used in clinical practice to document foot involvement. It’s a way to make sure you don’t forget a very important part of the body. It can be completed by podiatrists or as part of a doctor or specialist nurse review.

We are exploring its use in clinical practice, potentially for monitoring disease activity in the feet or as a predictive tool that could act as an early warning score for progressive foot deformity.

When is foot USS most useful in clinical practice?

We must utilise USS carefully as it's time-consuming. We recommend using it following history and examination when it is likely to change management. We are undertaking further research in this area and considering its role in the management of patients with tendonitis and enthesopathy.