FootCareDirect Footcare Resource

Foot Information : Talking to the Doctor

Podiatrist examining foot X-rays


In order to get a good diagnosis of your problem, it's important to bring accurate information to the doctor. You will need to be able to describe the pain you experience. Be aware of the pain so the doctor will be able to interpret not only level of pain (0 - 10) but the type of pain. Is it a sharp pain? Dull and aching? Throbbing? Does it only hurt when you put your weight on it?

After you have described your foot symptoms, your doctor will want to know more details about your pain, your medical history and lifestyle, including:

  • Whether your pain is worse at specific times of the day or after specific activities
  • Any recent injury to the area
  • Your medical and orthopedic history, especially any history of diabetes, arthritis or injury to your foot or leg
  • Your age and occupation
  • Your recreational activities, including sports and exercise programs
  • The type of shoes you usually wear, how well they fit, and how frequently you buy a new pair

Your doctor will examine you, possibly to include:

  • An evaluation of your gait - While you are barefoot, your doctor will ask you to stand still and to walk in order to evaluate how your foot moves as you walk.
  • An examination of your feet - Your doctor may compare your feet for any differences between them. Then your doctor may examine your painful foot for signs of tenderness, swelling, discoloration, muscle weakness and decreased range of motion.
  • A neurological examination - The nerves and muscles may be evaluated by checking strength, sensation and reflexes.

In addition to examining you, your podiatrist may want to examine your shoes. Signs of excessive wear in certain parts of a shoe can provide valuable clues to problems in the way you walk and poor bone alignment.

Depending on the results of your physical examination, you may need foot X-rays or other diagnostic tests.