We podiatrists are here to help you, to fix you. But our job is lot easier (and you often see results faster!) if you do a little prep before your visit. Help us help you!
1. Make your appointment on a day that the problem exists.
A lot of issues (like toenail fungus) are constant and present every day. Some others, like tendinitis or pinched nerve, only occur when you’ve worn a certain pair of shoes or have been on your feet all day. It can be more difficult for us to give you advice or a definitive diagnosis if we can’t examine the problem itself. If your foot hurts after you run, go for a short job prior to your appointment, so we can find exactly where you’re having pain.
2. Bring your shoes
One of the most common pieces of advice we give is to change your shoes to something that will not exacerbate your podiatric issue. If your feet hurt in your work boots, please bring them with you when you visit us. Arriving in flip flips only give us half of the equation.
3. Be specific
I’ll let you in on a little med school secret, medical providers have a system for finding clues to help diagnose and treat you. NLDOCAT. These seven letters stand for things we want to know about your condition or injury.
The Nature: of the pain or symptoms: sharp? shooting? dull? occasional?
The Location: of the symptoms: not just “my feet”, but if you can point to one spot where it’s worst, we appreciate that. (And we do understand that symptoms move, or are diffuse over an entire body part).
The Duration: of the symptoms: weeks? months? years?
The Onset: did this happen all at once (like an acute injury playing soccer?) or hast it been a gradual thing?
The Course: has it been getting gradually worse, or gradually better? or has it always been the same symptoms from day one?
Aggravating factors: does cold weather make it worse, or raising on your toes, or wearing heels? Does anything make it better?
Previous Treatment: have you seen another doctor for this, or have you been trying home remedies?
The more of these pieces of information you give us, the more clues we have to help you.
4. Follow directions
We understand that daily stretches, medications, toe soaking, foot cream application, or wearing a heavy velcro walking boot takes a piece out of your day. However, we wouldn’t give you instructions if we didn’t think they would either decrease or alleviate your symptoms, or give us additional information to help your diagnosis. If you come to your return appointment and have not been to any of your physical therapy appointments, or never picked up your medication, or did not wear the brace we gave you, sometimes we don’t have much to talk about. The follow up appointment is there to discuss the treatment we recommended. (That said, if a medication ever gives you side effects, or a brace increases your pain, or something else happens to cause additional problems, stop the treatment and let us know!)
5. Let us know
This one is important. We want to know what is going on. Call our office if you have questions or concerns between appointments. We would like to nip potential problems in the bud, so getting a heads-up about a small blister on a diabetic patient’s foot and being able to treat it right away is preferable to seeing them at a later appointment with a full blown diabetic wound. If your bandage gets wet after surgery, let us know. If your new medication makes you sick to your stomach, let us know. If you stop in a pot-hole and re-injure your sprained ankle that had just started to get better, let us know. We may not always need you to come in for a visit: often we can give extra advice or small changes in your regimen over the phone. But just in case it’s something that needs attention, go ahead and call us. We also want to know if you’re better. When we recommend a treatment, and it works, but if you don’t keep your follow up appointment, we don’t know whether we were successful in treating you. We like to keep tabs on how well different treatments works on the same problem (like injections versus physical therapy), so I can recommend the better treatment to future patients. Your feedback helps the next patient I have who shares your injury or ailment. So pay it forward!