How To Find A Good Foot Doctor: What You Need To Know
Knowing how to choose a podiatrist can make the difference between taking care of business, or suffering These days, getting all our chores and personal errands done may often feel like a race against time, with many of us struggling to balance grocery shopping, picking up laundry, and cooking dinner with the stress of our work. And while it’s normal for your feet to ache after a long day of running about, it’s just as important to listen to your body when it tells you that something is wrong. Any extended bout of pain on the feet or lower limbs, as well as any abnormalities such as bumps and protrusions, should immediately be checked out by a specialist.
More often than not, whatever discomfort you may be experiencing will not be the product of anything serious, but that’s no reason not to seek professional advice. If you’re unsure about what to do in terms of getting your feet checked, this handy guide covers everything you’ll need to know when it comes to how to choose a specialist for your feet, what exactly they do, and more.
What Is A Podiatrist?
Any quick internet search on trouble with the feet will tell you to consult a podiatrist. What is a podiatrist? For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, a podiatrist is simply a doctor who specializes in dealing with the feet and lower legs.
Similarly, it’s also important to know what to visit a podiatrist for. In most cases, podiatrists are trained to deal with a whole range of concerns, such as:
- Foot injuries
- Foot pain stemming from arthritis and gout
- Diabetic disorders like ulcers and infections
- Abnormalities in the structure of your foot like flat feet and hammertoe
- Surface skin conditions like warts and corns
- Toenail fungus
- Athlete’s foot
- …even nail conditions like ingrown nails
As you can see, podiatrists are very much ready and able to help in any way that they can, so don’t be afraid to let them know what they can do for you.
How To Find A Podiatrist Near You
One way to find a good podiatrist is to consult with your primary care physician or family doctor for any recommendations. If you have a good working relationship with this doctor and have known them for many years, it’s safe to say that their judgment can be trusted.
Another way to find a podiatrist near you is by checking your medical insurance policies. For example, if you have any healthcare benefits that come with your job, you might already have an accredited list of podiatrists to choose from.
The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) is a professional website for podiatrists. You can submit a request for names of foot doctors in the specific area you request.
Lastly, you can also source answers through family and friends. The ease and accessibility provided by the internet means that doing a simple background check on any one of their suggestions will get you results fast. It’s also always best to do some research on the type of foot condition you have and ask for a doctor who specifically treats it, so that you’ll be sure to get the right care for your needs.
How To Get A Good Podiatry Referral
You don’t typically need a referral in order to have a session with a podiatrist. If you’re sure that your condition is something that can’t be ignored and needs immediate treatment, once you’ve narrowed down your options and chosen which doctor to visit, you can directly call their office to set an appointment.
However, if you’d prefer to err on the side of caution, you can also visit your family doctor for a brief assessment on the issue. If your physician deems your problem as something that requires the care of a specialist, you can ask them to make a referral with a trusted and capable podiatrist.
What to Expect at Your First Visit and What Questions To Ask
Seeing a foot doctor for the first time is an understandably nerve-wracking experience. Aside from testing the waters in terms of how your relationship will work, you’re also going to be wary about how bad your condition is and want to get the best opinion possible. And like some people, you may be embarrassed to show your feet to anyone..even a podiatrist.
Your first session with a podiatrist will not be too different from a standard trip to your primary physician’s. They will do an initial assessment, asking you questions on your medical history, what the purpose of your visit is, and about any surgeries you might have had. It’s always important to be as honest and thorough as possible, so that the podiatrist really understands what they’re working with and how best to assist you.
The podiatrist will also look at how you walk and stand, scrutinize the range of motion in your joints, and check how your shoes fit and whether or not any of these is what is causing you distress. After this, they will usually discuss with you a couple of the probable diagnoses and make recommendations to treat the root cause of each one. If your problem is one that requires a second visit or medication, they’ll also prescribe it to you and have you schedule another appointment.
Despite being the patient, it’s just as imperative that you ask your own questions while you can. This will help you judge the podiatrist’s professionalism, basic practices, and expertise in order to gauge whether or not you would like to continue seeing them. Questions such as whether or not the podiatrist is board qualified and certified may seem redundant, but this is especially important to know if you’ll be needing surgery. You can also ask them if they have any hospitals or surgical centers they’re associated with, and who covers for them when they’re not available, in the event of an emergency.
Other than this, don’t be afraid to probe them on matters relating to your condition. Feel free to ask them why they are performing a specific test, or where the cause of your problem comes from. Most doctors will be happy to explain their practices to first-time visitors, and having a full understanding of what is being done to you will definitely ease your anxieties. If they prescribe any medication, get the list of possible side effects. You can also seek their advice on the best kind of socks and shoes for your foot type, in an effort to prevent the issue from cropping up in the future.
Which Podiatrist Is Right For You?
You’ve sourced the recommendations, sifted through all the answers, researched on your condition, and after an initial trip to your chosen specialist, you’re still uncertain on whether or not this podiatrist is right for you. Don’t fret, selecting a medical professional is hardly a cookie-cutter process, and what might work for others won’t necessarily do the same for you. When it comes to deciding to stick to a doctor, it’s always best to check for some of the underlying factors that can make or break your decision.
1. They’re competent
Is your doctor a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association or active in other associations? This is always the first thing you should look at when determining if someone is a right fit for your needs. Examine the equipment being used and the state of their office: is the medical equipment up-to-date? Are the practices that your doctor is employing standard ones? Don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion, either. There are many aspects that go into deciding whether to commit to a medical specialist, and they should always be taken into account.
2. They understand your needs
No two patients will have exactly the same needs despite having similar conditions, and it’s important that your podiatrist understands this and recommends the courses of action that are suitable to your individual lifestyles. For example, if you are diabetic, your doctor should consider your medical history and any supplements you’re already on. If you are an active person who runs frequently and plays a lot of sports, your doctor should prescribe solutions that will allow you to continue doing what you love. The best doctors are those who include and involve you in their decision-making. That’s not to say that you should overrule your doctor’s advice! These people are still trained professionals for a reason, and presumably know what’s best for you. But if your podiatrist is someone who will leave you completely out of the equation when discussing your care, this might be a sign that they are not right for you.
3. They’re professional
It goes without saying that working in this field requires even a modicum of professionalism, but when it comes to assessing your podiatrist, it’s crucial that you get a gist of their bedside manner and how they talk to patients. Working in medicine means that they often have to tell patients distressing or unfortunate news, and how well they approach this should be a quality to watch out for.
During your visit, take note of how the doctor communicates with you and whether or not you feel safe and comfortable in their presence. Depending on the severity of your condition, you might be spending a lot of time in each other’s company, so if they don’t immediately make you feel at ease about what’s going on, this is a dead giveaway that you should think about finding a different specialist.
Much like any choice you’re faced with, determining whether or not to see a podiatrist is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Because your feet are such integral parts of your body, it’s better to be safe than sorry when dealing with their welfare. Remember that you should always have an active say in dictating who treats you, and that making an informed and well-researched decision is the best place to start.
You have frequently heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and you can never afford to be too safe or cautions when it comes to your health. Feet are especially delicate matters, as they carry the full weight of our bodies day in and day out, and are very much instrumental to how we function.
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