Definition and Overview

A foot follow-up refers to return visits to a podiatrist’s office for the diagnosis, treatment or long-term management of foot-related conditions.

A podiatrist is a specialist who focuses on conditions affecting the foot, either as a distinct issue or in relation to an underlying disease. Over the course of treatment or management of said conditions, patients may be asked to return to the doctor’s office more than once to track their progress and ensure they receive consistent and continuous medical care that could guard against possible risks and complications they may be susceptible to.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

All patients seeking diagnosis, treatment, or long-term management of foot conditions should undergo scheduled or regular follow-ups. This is true whether the condition is due to a disease, a skin and nail issue, congenital issue, or an injury. Examples of each are listed below:

Diseases

  • Peripheral arterial disease/peripheral vascular disease
  • Gout
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Morton’s Neuroma
  • Lupus
  • Bunions *Leprosy
    Skin and nail-related conditions

  • Athlete’s foot

  • Corns
  • Calluses
  • Warts
  • Ingrown toenails
    Congenital issues

  • Flat feet

  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth or inherited peripheral neuropathy
  • Malalignment of foot
  • Clubfeet
    Injuries

  • Shin splints

  • Broken bone
  • Bone fractures
  • Sprains and strains
  • Broken toe
  • Bone spurs
  • Turf toe
    The purpose of each follow-up visit tends to vary depending on the condition of the patient and the course of treatment that is being followed. For example, a follow-up that is scheduled after a patient undergoes treatment for his condition focuses on checking whether the treatment yielded the expected results while follow-ups for patients with congenital foot deformity will focus on the management of the condition.

How the Procedure Works

As mentioned above, foot follow-up differs in terms of the methods and procedures being followed depending on the involved condition.

For underlying diseases, follow-up care will run in conjunction with the patient’s ongoing treatment for his disease. A good example are diabetic patients who require regular follow-ups for diabetic feet as well as regular maintenance check-ups for their diabetes. The visits may go on for as long as the patient is undergoing diabetic management, which, in some cases, lasts throughout his life.

For skin and nail conditions, follow-up care may also be continuous, especially if the conditions are recurrent (such as in the case of warts), or temporary, lasting only until the condition is successfully treated.

For congenital issues, the follow-up visits are not too urgent, unlike disease-related follow-ups. The visits may be scheduled at least once a year, but will go on for the duration of the person’s life. In case the patient seeks surgical treatment, he will still need to go back to the podiatrist for a post-surgical follow-up.

For injuries, follow-ups will only usually go for a limited period, or until the injuries have been treated completely. However, in the case of severe injuries, such as those leading to amputations or permanent disability, the patient may be asked to return regularly. The same is true for conditions requiring continuous therapy and rehabilitation.

Regardless of the purpose and timing of the follow-up, there is a common pattern that doctors follow. At the start of the visit, the podiatrist will ask questions about the patient’s health, old and new symptoms affecting the foot, any changes he may have noticed and any concerns he may have. The podiatrist may ask how medications or orthotic devices are helping. A physical examination of the feet is also a regular and important part of the visits. After this, the doctor will provide advice or recommendations on how to improve the patient’s condition, and may make adjustments to the treatment plan if necessary.

Possible Risks and Complications

A foot follow-up is a safe and routine visit to the doctor’s office. The physical examination that is performed during each visit is also a routine exam that does not pose any risk to the patient. Foot conditions associated with some serious risks, such as loss of limb, can be avoided if the patient seeks proper and regular long-term care.

References:

  • Klein SE. Conditions of the forefoot. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:section H.

  • Hirose CB, Clanton TO, Wood RM. Etiology of injury to the foot and ankle. In: DeLee JC, Drez D Jr, Miller MD, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:section J.

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