We cannot deny that podiatry is an interesting profession. Our job as a podiatrist is so multifaceted that we find it difficult ourselves to help others fully comprehend our scope of practice. But, we are not diving into what we do as podiatrists today. That will be for another day. What we are sharing with you today instead are some secret insights into our perspective, distilling them down into 5 things we really, really want you to know! So, sit back and read on.
1. There’s no need to feel embarrassed about your feet at the podiatrist
“Sorry, my feet are horrible.” Well, guess what? Your podiatrist is likely to have seen a lot worse than what you are presenting with. Just keep in mind that there is ALWAYS someone with worse feet than you. All that we want you to do when you come is to relax and have a good experience.
Generally, there aren’t a lot of bad feet to be seen at a private practice. We had our fair share of really bad feet at our hospital placement back in our uni days. We are talking about feet and legs that will make you cringe and gasp – oozing foot and/or ulcers big and small with potentially pungent odour. It was really confronting to see how some feet could be in such a condition. Unfortunately, a large proportion of those feet would end up with an amputation.
But, you should be able to imagine now why nothing could easily shock us after that. So, trust us when we say you don’t have the worst feet. There’s really no need to feel embarrassed about them!
2. Most things, like plantar fasciitis, don’t happen overnight
We know that feeling – one day you had no problem with your feet, then the next day you woke up with excruciating heel pain! “But, I’ve never had any problems with my feet! How did that happen?” As much as the onset of symptoms could seem sudden, most things, other than acute injuries, have been brewing in the background for quite some time.
We say that because the way we walk, the shoes we wear, and the activities we do are usually a constant. If any of those three elements can cause little damage to your feet, then over time it can cause big damage. Our body produces pain as a signal to tell us that something is wrong. At the same time, our body is resilient. It will always try to repair the damage. As long as damage occurs at a lower rate than repair, our body is happy. But, when damage is faster than repair, pain happens.
That is also why sometimes certain conditions, for example, plantar fasciitis, are more common in the 40s-50s bracket. Our body is slower at healing with ageing (unfortunate, we know!). So, what didn’t cause you problem 10 years ago could be the very culprit of your pain now.
Does that mean younger people will be problem-free? Not at all! Younger people will have their own set of problems. For instance, we see a lot of young children when they go through growth spurts. Growing pains are quite a common condition among growing children which can affect their heels, knees and hips.
Musculoskeletal conditions are usually multifaceted. It’s not just one thing that contributes to and aggravates the problem. Identifying and addressing all the components in play are crucial in getting you better. And, that’s what your podiatrist can help you with!
3. It takes time to get back to 100%
This echoes with the previous point. Much like how a musculoskeletal condition (plantar fasciitis, knee pain, hip pain) takes time to develop, it takes time to undo the damage as well! Another really important thing to understand and remember is that during the course of treatment, fluctuations of symptoms do happen. What makes lower limb injuries much more challenging to treat is the fact that we still need to use our feet regardless.
We all have a tendency to “do more” once we feel better. When we do that, the intensity of the activity may actually be more than our body’s capability, giving us a bad day with sore feet. Understanding that your body needs time to build endurance and strength again is essential in maintaining a positive outlook on your treatment progress.
Another thing that plays a huge role in your recovery is the voices that you choose to hear. The opinions we hear have a heavy influence on our perspective on a subject whether we acknowledge that or not. Recovery does not happen with a snap of the fingers. You can still have some pain here and there while actually making great progress with your podiatrist.
For example, you started off limping into your podiatrist’s office, but now you can walk without a limp. Still, you have some dull ache in your feet. Overall, you are feeling much better. Someone you know (usually the ones we are closest to can cause us the most stress) tells you that it seems like you are not getting better. Or else, why would you still have pain?
Do you choose to agree with that voice, or do you choose to agree with the actual progress you have made and experienced first-hand? We could not emphasise enough the importance of asking your loved ones to be on the same page with you, so they can actually celebrate your wins, both big and small, instead of heaping coals on your head. Your spouse, family and friends need to understand, as much as you do, that recovery is a journey and it takes time. Otherwise, this whole thing will just be a storm of stress for you, leaving you tangled in opinions and reality.
As much as it pains us to say it, we have seen how a loved one can have good intentions, but bad executions. It can significantly delay, if not reverse, the progress you have made. Worse still is that you lose hope and give up altogether.
So, our two cents is that choose who you listen to wisely, be confident in yourself and your podiatrist, do this together, and get to the destination!
4. Your input is as important your podiatrist’s
Nothing beats being proactive and involved with your own health. Experience also tells us that proactive individuals tend to have a better treatment outcome. Sometimes, we see ourselves more like a coach than a podiatrist. We identify where things may not be performing well, we give you strategies to manage your condition, we perform physical treatment, we formulate exercise plans for you and actually do the exercises with you, we ask you to keep a journal, we listen to you, we talk to you, we celebrate with you. What we are trying to say is that we walk this journey together with you. We are involved as much as you are, but we cannot make you do what you don’t want to do.
Let’s take treating fungal toenail infectionas an example. Our role is to educate you on all aspects relating to getting rid of this infection – home treatment routine, frequency of podiatry appointments, the risk of reinfection, the expectations. Your role is to do the home treatment daily and come for your podiatry appointment every 4 weeks. We both need to play our parts to ensure progress happens!
We, and we believe most podiatrists would share the same view, want to encourage you to be engaged in your own treatment because it takes two, both you and your podiatrist, to make things work!
5. Your podiatrist doesn’t necessarily have a feet fetish
It is not uncommon for us get asked whether we love feet, you know, in a fetish way? We can see why though. Feet aren’t the most pleasant, glamourous body part to deal with, but we suppose teeth could be worse? (Sorry, our dear dentist friend.)
But, you know what? Our feet are so intricately designed with so many components and layers to them, and yet they work in perfect harmony to carry us around to take us places, to do the things we want to do, and to see the world! So, what isn’t there to love about our feet? We think it’s time that we put more thoughts into this often-oversighted body part and give them the attention and love they deserve!
So, yes, we will say we love feet, just not in a fetish way!
We hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post and learned a bit more about us, the podiatrists. If you are new here, welcome! If you are a regular, welcome back! Either way, we are so glad you joined us today. If you haven’t already, consider following us on Facebook and Instagram for more great content (fun content only, pinky promise!). Till next time!