When you think of the most important parts of the body, you might think about the heart, lungs, or brain. But what supports your entire body and enables good balance and posture? The feet. That’s why foot health is so critical. And if you have any foot pain or discomfort, you know just how distracting and physically limiting it can be. Before the pain worsens, find a foot doctor in Los Angeles who can help. Here’s your guide on how to choose one.
Understanding the Role of a Foot Doctor
A foot doctor—or podiatrist—is a physician who specializes in the lower extremities, primarily feet and ankles. Their goal is to ensure everyone, from kids to the elderly, can walk comfortably and pain-free. That means podiatrists can treat anything foot-related, from skin conditions to fractures, bunions, and heel pain. They also offer the following services:
- Nail restoration
- Plantar wart removal
- Arch pain treatment
- Bunion surgery
- Toenail fungus treatment
- Sports injury treatment
- Diabetic foot care
- Hammer toe treatment
- And much more
Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Foot Doctor
Specialization and Expertise
Podiatry might already seem like a specialty—and, technically, it is. However, there are several subspecialties that foot doctors can pursue. The three main specialties are public health, surgery, and orthopedics, but there are many others.
For example, orthopedic podiatrists focus on prosthetics and orthotics (braces) for the feet and lower legs, while diabetic foot care specialists treat diabetic patients and help them manage foot-related symptoms. Other specializations include neuropodiatry (related to nerve disorders), dermatologic podiatry, and podiatric sports medicine.
Patients seeking specialized care should look for a foot doctor with expertise in that particular area. Most podiatrists practice general foot care but advertise their specialties and research focus areas. For example, Dr. Harounian is board-certified by the American Board of Lower Extremity Surgery and cares for all patients, from children to geriatric patients, but has also focused his studies on osteology (the study of bones), immunology, genetics, and neuroscience.
Experience should always be one of the primary considerations when choosing a doctor. A foot doctor with 10+ years of experience can provide the most effective care possible. Their years of experience and thousands of patient visits allow them to easily identify common problems and prescribe the best medication or treatment method.
Of course, location should be a primary consideration when choosing a podiatrist. Patients should not need to travel an hour or more just to visit a foot doctor—especially if they have regular follow-up appointments.
For Los Angeles residents, Dr. Harounian has two nearby locations for easy access: one in West LA and one in Metropolitan LA. Patients can choose the best one for them, so they don’t have to travel far with an injured or painful foot.
Like experience, credentials are a must-have when looking for a foot doctor. It’s important to note that podiatrists do not go to medical school like other doctors, so they don’t have an MD after their name. Instead, podiatrists attend a podiatric medical school and receive a DPM (doctor of podiatric medicine).
All podiatrists must be licensed. They can also pursue certification in two general specialties: surgery or primary care and orthopedics. Check the podiatrist’s website for credentials. If they are not there, ask the doctor to see their certification during a consultation.
How to Research Potential Foot Doctors in Los Angeles
The easiest way to research potential foot doctors is to do an internet search for something like “foot doctor in Los Angeles.” From there, the patients should not just choose the first one they find. Instead, they should take the time to review multiple podiatrist options.
Patients can review the foot doctors’ websites, exploring what type of services they offer and the conditions they treat. The podiatrist should have some information about their credentials on the website so people can check their years of experience and specialties.
Once the patient has found a few options that are nearby and offer the necessary specialty services, they can search for testimonials. These will often appear on the doctor’s website. However, the clinic may only showcase positive reviews. Check the testimonials on Google, Facebook, Yelp, or similar review pages for more balanced reviews.
Patients can also get a feel for what the clinic is like by calling in and asking a few questions about availability, services, pricing, or expertise. The responses can tell a lot about the clinic’s services and how they treat patients.
Setting Up Consultations
After patients have narrowed down their list of foot doctors to a few options, it’s time to schedule consultations—yes, multiple consultations. Patients can’t determine which doctor is best only from online research. The in-person experience is very telling—not only to the podiatrist’s expertise but also to their patient care.
Patients can use the consultation to get to know the doctor better and gauge their ability to treat the specific condition. Here are some questions they can use:
- How many years have you been practicing?
- What is your experience with (specific condition/specialty)?
- How serious is this condition?
- What are my treatment options?
- How will this affect my daily life?
- What type of tests do I need?
- What are your treatment recommendations?
Making the Final Decision
The consultations will reveal a lot about the foot doctor’s approach to patient care. Consider whether they listen to questions and provide thorough answers or just try to rush the appointment. Their physical demeanor and attitude should also put people at ease, not stress them out or make them uncomfortable.
Treatment options are also a critical consideration. Patients should analyze all recommendations to determine which is most ideal for their foot health needs and lifestyle. The end goal is to feel confident and secure with their choice of podiatrist.
When you have foot pain, your first reaction might be to go to your general physician or urgent care. But if you want expert, specialized care, you need a foot doctor in Los Angeles. Follow the tips above to find a podiatrist near you, and set up a consultation today.