First Time Seeing a Foot Doctor?
sdafsdEmbarrassed to go to the Podiatrist?
You shouldn’t be. Perfect feet are a rarity and, if there is a professional who has seen the “good, bad and ugly,” it is a podiatrist. Just like the mechanic who heads to work every day expecting customers to come with car problems, your podiatrist is specially trained to address your foot problems, no matter how trivial or complex you think they are. What’s more, with modern healthcare being increasingly team-oriented, a good foot doctor knows both when and who to refer you to, if necessary. The key to making your time together productive is to come prepared and be as open as possible about your concerns. Doing so will help both you and your podiatrist create the most appropriate care plan for you.
When to consult a Podiatrist
If you’re not sure when a foot problem warrants a visit to the podiatrist, you’re not alone. Many people wait a lot longer than they need to before seeing one. To help avoid the “I wish I had come earlier” syndrome, consider any foot pain a good enough reason to see a foot doctor. The same rule should apply to any unexplainable change in the aspect of your feet.
Pain in your heel –or any other area of your foot—needs to be evaluated by a podiatrist. Determining the muscular or skeletal origin of your pain –as well its timing—helps guide treatment decisions. If you suffer from foot pain, your doctor will probably request x-rays or other imaging studies to rule out possible injuries, bone deformities, muscle or such joint abnormalities as gout crystals. Soreness in your toes should also be medically evaluated because they can point to a number of injuries or conditions. Depending on the nature of your pain, your podiatrist may fit you for pads, arch supports or insoles to help alleviate your symptoms.
Discolored toenails are another common reason for seeing a podiatrist. The yellow toenails that have prevented you from wearing open-toed shoes might point to a fungal infection, while whitening toenails could indicate psoriasis, especially if they have been separating from the nail bed. Either way, a podiatrist can help. If your toenails are your main concern, keep them free of polish and bring your socks in case an ointment is applied during your office visit.
The term “ingrown toenail” describes a condition in which your nail curves and grows into your skin, creating a very painful border. Any toenail of you foot can become ingrown, although big toes are most commonly affected. Ideally, you should consult a podiatrist if you suspect you have an ingrown toenail. Promptly visiting a podiatrist becomes even more important if you notice that your ingrown toenail is getting worse, because ingrowing nails tend to quickly get infected. Physicians have a number of more or less invasive treatments available, including the partial or total removal of the affected nail. The pain around an ingrown toenail usually requires that the affected toes be numbed before nail removal.
Open sores are another important reason to seek podiatric care, particularly if you have diabetes and the sore is slow to heal. A podiatrist can swab the sore to identify the type of bacteria involved and prescribe the appropriate antibiotics. Time is of the essence with foot sores, because the infection can travel quickly and lead to a loss of sensation or bacteremia, a term that describes the presence of bacteria in the blood. Regular self-inspections of your feet can help you catch such changes early and get timely help. Letting a sore or open lesion remain untreated can endanger your overall health.
Does the word ‘hammertoe’ only conjure up the unflattering image of a toe that is buckled up at the joints? Hammertoes are more than just an esthetic concern, as they can cause pain and pressure sores on the pad of the affected toes. Mild cases can benefit from certain pads and insoles, but severe cases usually require surgery for long-term pain relief.
A bunion is another structural deformity that can graduate from being a primarily esthetic concern to a debilitating problem. Bunions result from a misalignment of the bones that connect your big toe to the rest of your foot. This often leads to swelling, irritation and pain at the base of the big toe, in the joint area. It’s not unusual for bunion pain to cause one’s gait to become crooked, potentially increasing stress on other areas of the lower limb. Because bunions are a progressive condition, early evaluation and care can help you slow their development and control the pain. Naturally, some bunions may reach a level of severity that requires surgical correction.
Any abnormal swelling or numbness also warrants podiatric care because they could indicate an underlying condition. Few people check their feet regularly enough to catch any changes as soon as they occur. Your foot may get infected and swell as a result of unknowingly stepping on something. Left untreated, a foot infection can worsen to the point of requiring oral or intravenous antibiotics.
Prevention Is Still Better than Cure
When it comes to your health, the following sayings remain immutable truths: an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure; and procrastination is the thief of time. You do not have to wait for a major foot problem to arise before seeing a podiatrist. Abnormal feelings regarding any foot pain or irritation should motivate you to go see your local podiatrist. Preventive care is especially important if you have a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes, heart disease or blood circulation disorders. You may also wish to see a podiatrist if you have problem trouble reaching your own toenails or trimming them properly. Not only can your foot doctor ensure that they are trimmed properly, but he or she can also teach you techniques to prevent ingrown toenails or other toenail injuries.
What to expect at an office visit.
Podiatric physicians –and other doctors, for that matter—typically spend more time asking background questions during your first visit. To facilitate the process, be prepared to answer questions about your general health, as well as past medical history, past surgeries and family health history. You may wish to write the above information ahead of time and, if available, bring a copy of previous test results and imaging studies related to your current concern. Bringing a list of all your current medications would also be helpful, especially if you suffer from several medical conditions. Do not omit vitamins and over-the-counter medicines. The more accurate your medication list is, the better you will help guide your doctor’s treatment choice. Your time with the podiatrist will also be more productive if you bring in the shoes you most often use, including sneakers and sandals.
Essentials you should bring:
Health Insurance Card/Information
A list of current medications
A list of your questions or concerns
A copy of previous x-rays, CT scans or other diagnostic tests
Copies of records from doctors related to your visit
· Any type of foot pain or abnormal swelling should be evaluated and treated by a podiatrist.
· Certain diseases have early manifestations in the foot. See a podiatrist if you notice sudden changes in the aspect of your feet, even if you believe your problem is minor.
· Prevention is better than cure. You don’t have to wait until you have a foot problem to see a podiatrist, especially if you have a chronic medical condition.