Frequently Asked Questions
Information on Foot Care
What is a podiatrist?
A podiatrist, also called a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, is a specialist who provides medical diagnosis and treatment of foot and ankle problems, such as bunions, heel pain, spurs, hammertoes, neuromas, ingrown toenails, warts, corns, and calluses. A podiatrist also renders care of sprains, fractures, infections, and injuries of the foot, ankle, and heel.
In addition to undergraduate medical school training, podiatrists also attend graduate school for a doctorate degree in podiatry. Podiatrists are required to pass provincial and national exams, as well as be licensed by the province in which they practice. Currently, there are an estimated 70 registered podiatrists in Ontario.
Podiatrists are in demand more than ever today because of a rapidly aging population. In addition, according to the Canadian Podiatric Medical Association, foot disorders are among the most widespread and neglected health problems affecting people in this country. Typically, podiatrists:
- Consult with patients and other physicians on how to prevent foot problems.
- Diagnose and treat tumours, ulcers, fractures, skin and nail diseases, and deformities.
- Perform surgeries to correct or remedy problems such as bunions, claw toes, fractures, hammertoes, infections, and injuries to ligaments and tendons.
- Prescribe therapies and make use of diagnostic test results, including ultrasound and lab tests.
- Prescribe or fit patients with inserts called orthotics that correct walking patterns.
- Treat conditions such as bone disorders, bunions, corns, calluses, cysts, heel spurs, infections, ingrown nails, and plantar fasciitis.
Remember This About Podiatrists: Around the world, no segment of the health profession sees and treats more foot problems day by day than a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. If symptoms develop, see your podiatrist promptly. We only have one pair of feet to last a lifetime!
How is my privacy protected?
We are required by law to follow the rules and regulations of both the Canadian Federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Province of Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act. More information on these acts can be found on the Canadian Government’s portal website and the Ontario Legislation’s portal website.
How do I cut my toenails?
Your toenails should be even with the ends of your toes. Trim or file your nails straight across. Do not cut into the corners, and do not cut a “V” in the free end of the nail. If your nails are especially thick, file them gently with an emery board, after your footbath. If they are ingrown or infected, see a podiatrist for treatment.
What shoes do you recommend?
Wear properly fitted shoes with a round toe style, and a fairly high toe box that will not cause pressure on the toes. Wear the lowest heel with which you feel comfortable. Consider crepe or rubber-soled shoes to reduce the jarring forces of concrete, terrazzo, and other hard surfaces.
What special care do diabetics require?
If you have poor circulation or diabetes, avoid circular garters. Do not expose your feet to very hot or cold water, and do not sit with crossed legs. Never attempt to cut corns or calluses. Do not smoke, as this seriously hinders blood circulation to the legs and feet.
What about my children’s feet?
Naturally, you want your child to be strong and healthy, and your podiatrist will lead you and your child to healthy feet. Those little developing feet, which will have to carry the entire weight of the body through a lifetime of standing, walking, and running, are composed of 52 bones. This is 25% of all bones in the body, plus, there are many muscles, tendons, ligaments, arteries, veins, and nerves in your feet. Because the feet of young children are soft and pliable, abnormal pressures can easily cause deformities.
The Canadian Podiatry Association points out that many adult foot ailments have their origin in childhood, and that periodic professional attention and foot care, when needed, can minimize problems in later life.
A Parent’s Guide to Children’s Foot Health
- Do not bind covers over your baby’s feet. It restricts movement and can retard normal development.
- Provide an opportunity for exercising the feet. Lying uncovered enables the baby to kick and perform other related motions that prepare the feet and legs.
- Change the baby’s position several times a day. Lying too long in a spot, especially on the stomach, can put excessive strain on the feet and legs.
- Once children begin to walk, the feet should be examined by a podiatrist.
- Check shoe size periodically to ensure that feet have room to grow, and watch for excessive shoe wear in any one area.
- Do not hand down shoes from one child to another. Each pair of feet has its own requirements.
- Walking is the best of all foot exercises. Observe your child’s walking habits. If you see toeing-in or toeing-out, knock-knees, or other gait problems, professional attention is needed.
- Night leg cramps are usually due to foot fatigue and muscle imbalance. So-called “growing pains” frequently are symptoms of abnormal foot mechanics.
- Remember that lack of complaint by a youngster is not a reliable sign. The bones of growing feet are so flexible that they can be twisted and distorted without the child being aware.
- Be very careful about employing home remedies against fungus infections or warts on the foot. Strong preparations can burn or otherwise hurt the skin.
- Consult a podiatrist whenever you have questions about your child’s foot health.
What special care do athletic people need?
The beneficial effects of sports activity on the heart, lungs, and overall conditioning are well documented. The positive mental effects have been found to be most desirable as well. In return, sports activities demand much of the body’s stamina and agility. Many parts of the body undergo considerable stress during play, and the feet, which provide all-important mobility, are high on this overworked list! Neither serious athletes nor “weekend” athletes can fully avoid an injury list, which includes ankle sprains, pulled muscles and ligaments, tendonitis, stress fractures, heel spurs, bone bruises, calluses, blisters, and others. The following is a list of do’s and don’ts for persons engaging in physical activity:
- Do specific flexibility and warm up exercises prior to your sport. On completion of the sport, stretch and cool down gently.
- Strengthen surrounding muscles that are not used very much in the engaged sport.
- Powder your feet and shoes. This will absorb moisture and reduce friction.
- Use moisture wicking socks to provide the best foot environment and to enable the feet to breathe more easily.
- If you have a blister or a friction problem, use Vaseline and gauze.
- Always use the right shoe for the right sport.
- Don’t try to run through pain.
- Don’t try to do too much too soon. Build up your level or duration gradually.
- Never take pills to mask pain.
- Don’t attempt a 100% workout in the following conditions:
- Extreme conditions of heat or humidity
- After a full meal
- If you have a fever
- If you are just back from a layoff or injury
- Use “R.I.C.E” for treatment of injuries (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation).
How do I make sure my ski boots fit?
Properly fitted ski boots are essential. They should fit snugly but not uncomfortably. Toes should wiggle, but the heel, instep, and the ball of the foot should be effectively immobilized. Fit comes first. If a boot is not comfortable when you try it on in the shop, you will not ski well.
How do I get comfort in my ice skates?
For adults and children, skates should be tried on over skating socks—preferably, a combination of Orlon, cotton, and nylon. The heel should be pulled back to the heel cup of the boot, and the toe should come close to the front. A boot should provide excellent support, particularly in the arch in order to avoid foot fatigue and injury. Finally, skaters with structural imbalances will function better with the aid of balancing insoles or orthotic foot devices. We, as sports-oriented podiatrists, can be helpful if a skater has reason to suspect structural imbalances.
Does OHIP cover podiatry care?
OHIP will cover a small portion of your visit and a small portion of the cost of any X-rays that we do, but it does not provide fee-for-service for podiatry care. Therefore, the balance on your account is the amount you are responsible for paying. Private insurance carriers may reimburse for many of our products and services. Check with your insurance provider for details.
How far does an average person walk?
The average person walks an average of 184,000 km during his/her lifetime.