Foot pain is extremely common, and millions of patients see a podiatrist every year for diagnosis and treatment. A podiatrist is a physician who specializes in foot and ankle care, and is well trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating foot and ankle disease both common and rare. While a foot exam and various tests can result in an accurate diagnosis, the history of the condition reported by the patient is just as important of a clue in determining what is the cause of the pain or problem. This article discusses several key points of information a patient should have before seeing the podiatrist to help assist with the diagnosis.
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Your Complete Medical History
The first thing one should compile before seeing a podiatrist, or any other physician, for the first time is their medical history. This includes all medical conditions one has been treated for other than a cough or cold, including childhood illnesses. Also one should compile a list of all surgeries one has ever had from head to toe, all medications currently being used and their doses if possible, all allergies and bad reactions one has had to medications, chemicals, or other materials, and a list of any other medical issues or symptoms one is actively dealing with, even if it is not related to the foot. The foot is connected to the body, and many chronic diseases or changes in the body due to previous surgeries can directly affect the foot and produce foot pain, skin disease, or inflammation. A podiatrist will also need to know about current medications and medical allergies in order to safely prescribe medication for treatment if needed.
The Exact Location and Nature Of The Pain Or Problem
It is important that one try and isolate the exact location one is experiencing pain or discomfort. The foot is a very complex part of the body, with numerous tendons, muscles, bones, nerves, skin structures, and joints that can be a source of pain or disease. Simply pointing to the foot in it entirety and telling the podiatrist that it hurts ‘there’ does not help. One should try and concentrate beforehand on isolating the location of the pain, or at least the general side of the foot that the pain appears in. Some conditions do create pain in the entire foot, and cannot be isolated. If this is truly the case, the podiatrist will want to confidently know this rather than assume a patient simply has not concentrated enough on the location of the pain. Knowing the general location of the pain can save valuable diagnosis time, as the physician can hone in on the problem easier. The nature of the pain can help determine the nature of the disease process. For example, heel pain is common, and is usually sharp due to plantar fasciitis. However, pain felt in the heel that constantly burns can indicate some other condition all together.