Know Before You Go: The Podiatrist

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Frequently, conditions of the feet may go unnoticed as it may be one of the more neglected body parts. Additionally, patients may delay a trip to the doctor if they don’t feel “prepared” for their first podiatry visit. Here is short list of some dos and don’ts before seeing your friendly foot doctor.

Don’t: Don’t feel the need to shave your legs. My female patients often apologize for not shaving before their visits. The truth is that hair on the legs and toes is often a good indication of healthy blood flow. Absence of hair could be related to certain conditions associated with diabetes or smoking. Having hair is healthy – it’s a good thing!

Don’t: Don’t feel the need to get a pedicure. This is a big one. Often, patients think that they need to get a pedicure to be “presentable” for their visit. Most pedicure facilities are not medically sterile. Viral, bacterial and fungal infections are not uncommon after getting repeated pedicures. Patients think they are practicing good hygiene, when in fact it may be causing their conditions to worsen.

Don’t: Similarly, don’t polish nails before your visit. Conditions such as fungal nails require a clinical examination and possibly a culture. Therefore, do not trim the nails, since your podiatrist may have to send a sample to the lab. Clear nails (without polish) will allow your podiatrist to assess your nails’ health.

Do: Take notes on your condition. If, for example, you have foot pain, keep a log of when the condition started, what aggravates it, and what alleviates the pain. If you are coming in for changes in skin, take note of the size, shape or change in color of any concerning marks or rashes. Also any x-rays, MRIs or recent test results related to your condition should be brought with you.

Do: Keep a list of all your medications, new and old, as well as allergies. Patients sometimes think certain medications are unrelated to their foot diagnosis. Remember, all medications are important in understanding your overall health.

Do: Do bring your shoes for assessment. If you wear orthotics or any assisted walking device, bring them with you for examination as well. Your podiatrist may want to look at the wear patterns of your shoe as well as assess your walking patterns (gait).

Do: Take a proactive approach to your health. As mentioned, the feet are probably the most overlooked body part. If you suspect an infection, especially if you are diabetic, do not wait for the condition to worsen. Even the slightest callus or corn may lead to something more serious, so don’t think that because it appears “small”, it isn’t worth being examined.

Do: Finally, do ask questions! There is so much information on the internet, but there is plenty of false information out there. Talk to your podiatrist about your condition and treatment plan. Make sure you understand what your doctor has recommended, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember an informed patient is always a “step” ahead!