What to expect when you see a podiatrist

Dr. Mindi Feilmeier sees a foot and ankle patient.
Dr. Feilmeier discusses a foot and ankle issue with a patient.

Maybe it’s because the feet are the furthest body part from your eyes, but many foot conditions go unnoticed. By the time you experience symptoms, the problem is likely worse than you think and it’s time to see a podiatrist. Here’s what to expect on your first visit to a foot and ankle physician.

1. Thorough medical history

On your first visit, the podiatrist will obtain a thorough medical history to help identify possible areas of concern that may lead to or worsen foot and leg problems. Be prepared with any important medical records and information on the following:

  • Current medical problems, medications and allergies
  • Past surgeries
  • Any symptoms you are experiencing throughout your body
  • Family history
  • Current and previous health habits

2. Expert examination of the foot

The podiatrist will examine your foot and lower leg to check your blood flow, feeling, sensation and strength. They will identify any area of concern, including deformities such as bunion or hammertoes, muscle weakness and skin and nail changes.

3. Treatment and prevention recommendations

Based on the thorough history and examination, the podiatrist will be able to make specific recommendations. Your treatment and prevention plan may include footwear, padding, inserts, physical therapy and wound or ulcer care. In some cases, referrals to other specialists are necessary. For example, you may need to see a vascular specialist if there is a concern regarding blood flow. Your foot and ankle physician will work with your primary care physician and other specialists if needed to ensure that everything is done to keep your feet and legs as healthy as possible, thus keeping you as active as possible.

The podiatrist may recommend other lifestyle changes that impact the health of your feet:

  • Smoking cessation – Smoking can decrease blood flow to your legs and feet.
  • Weight loss – Excessive weight can increase strain on your joints, including your feet and ankles.
  • Walking – Increased walking leads to increased circulation in the feet.
  • Diabetes management – Carefully managing your disease through diet and exercise can help prevent many foot and ankle complications.

Podiatrists are specially trained to address your foot and ankle problems, no matter how small you think they are. The next time you notice something strange with your feet, don’t hesitate to visit a foot and ankle specialist.

Mindi Feilmeier

Mindi Feilmeier, D.P.M., FACFAS, is a podiatrist at Des Moines University Foot and Ankle and an assistant professor in the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery.

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