by Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM MS
There is nothing more frustrating than persistent foot pain. You have tried everything you can think of from icing and resting to various inserts and compressive devices, but nothing is taking away that sharp pain you feel with every step.
Despite consulting with Dr. Google, you think it may be time to finally see a professional. This will be the first time you are going to see a Podiatrist. What can you expect? And how can you get the most out of your appointment?
What is a Podiatrist?
A Podiatrist, more commonly known as a foot doctor, is like a specialized medical doctor. Like an MD, they go to eight years of school followed by a three-year surgical residency. This means they are a trustworthy source for all foot related problems and foot surgery questions.
Whether your concern is bunions, plantar fasciitis, plantar warts, ingrown toenails, or fungal infections, they pretty much have seen it all.
How to prepare for your appointment:
When visiting a podiatry clinic there are a few things you should prepare in advance including:
- Make a list of all the medications you’re currently taking, as well as any surgeries you’ve undergone
- Gather and bring any important medical records, lab results, X-rays and MRIs from other doctors or hospitals, especially those pertaining to your feet
- Check with your insurance company if a referral is mandatory prior to visiting a podiatrist
- Bring your walking or exercise shoes with you and bring shorts just in case the Podiatrist does a thorough gait assessment.
Questions you’ll be asked by the Podiatrist
Understanding the nature of your symptoms is important for determining the actual diagnosis. Many conditions can present similarly but it is the subtle differentiation between the way the pain presents which can lead to the final diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Nature – What type of pain do you feel? Burning, tingling, shooting or numbness pain?
Location – Where is your pain? Can you point with one finger where it hurts?
Duration – How long have you felt your pain? Months, weeks, days?
Onset – Did this happen gradually or all at once?
Course – Is your pain getting better or worse? Radiating to other parts of foot?
Aggravated – What makes it worse? Walking, certain shoes, resting?
Treatment – What have you done so far to try to reduce pain? Has it helped?
Ensuring a successful recovery
For many foot conditions the treatment protocol can take between 4-6 weeks being seeing any results. This means that being consistent in your doctor’s recommendations is an important part of a successful recovery.
Try to take it one-day at a time versus being overwhelmed by how long it may take to feel better. Ask questions and keep an open dialogue with your Podiatrist. They want you to feel better and ultimately are here for you.To find a Podiatrist or to learn more about Podiatry and foot health, you may visit the American Podiatric Medical Association website at www.apma.org