The Best Help
When people suffer from foot pain our advice is always to see a podiatrist, but what can we expect from a podiatrist? They are skilled in treating disorders affecting the foot and ankle, and they have a whole array of treatments and skills at their disposal, but what is the best help they can offer?
Some of the most valuable appointments involve a long conversation. Often a new patient may not see the reason for so many questions as the podiatrist takes a history. “Why are you asking about my thyroid problems when I have a problem with my nails?” may be a typical response. One of the most important skills of any healthcare practitioner is the ability to ask the right questions, and listen to the answers. Being a practitioner can be a little like being a detective, and the skill is in getting all of the pieces of the jigsaw to complete the picture. A red toe can be seen, but experience may well guide a practitioner to ask questions that will point to the underlying cause.
What now? Can you fix it? How will you fix it? Perhaps the most important question the podiatrist will consider is, how can we prevent it happening again? To understand this we must know the underlying cause, and also realise that the patient is going back to their life without the podiatrist. Empowering a patient by giving some knowledge, and the motivation to effect a change may be what is required to improve their foot health.
So, what motivates you? Is it the same as what motivates me, perhaps, perhaps not. The best help may not be the same for us all then, as it will need to be fired by whatever your particular motivator is, and be appropriate for you, your life and your circumstances. Shoes can be a great example of this. My wife refuses to let me accompany her when shoe shopping, every pair she elevates for my approvals gets my resounding disapproval, well that’s how it feels to her. My wife has a different agenda with shoes than I do, for her they are an extension of her identity, to me they are items to protect and support feet. So, if I hold judgement on those heels and persuade that some nice supportive laced shoes would be better would we get a better health outcome for her feet. Or… would the shoes be hidden in the back of a wardrobe and problematic shoes return to the feet?
Understanding the complete picture of what matters, what can be changed, what can be compromised, and how much of an improvement is a good outcome are unique to every patient that walks through the door. Perhaps the best treatment comes in the form of many questions.