Dr. Jinwah John Hoy
FOR NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
As a Chinese growing up in America, the concept of Western medicine was something to be feared. Doctors were too expensive, gave medications with dangerous side effects, or were always ready to perform surgery. Whenever I injured my foot, the treatment was to pull on it or receive a heavy massage with Chinese herbs. If there was an infection, the treatment was to rest and drink herbal teas. There is definitely a place for various forms of medicine. However, there are some instances where a visit to a podiatrist may be indicated. A podiatrist is a physician and surgeon of the foot and ankle. As a podiatrist of Chinese heritage, I find that visits to a podiatrist are particularly necessary for injuries, infections, and painful deformities.
When the foot or ankle is injured, some believe that there is nothing that can be done, or that the injury needs to be popped back into place. The goal of proper treatment is to correctly identify the cause and effectively treat the injury to prevent it from getting worse. This will minimize downtime in one’s work and personal life, and maximize function. Podiatrists perform x-rays or other imaging studies to diagnose the problem correctly and evaluate treatments that are needed. Treatments such as taping, casts, healing shoes, and physical therapy may be utilized.
When there are infections, quick action and proper treatment are needed to keep the infection from getting worse. Examples include fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot and nail fungus, viral infections, such as warts, and bacterial infections from foreign bodies, wounds, or ingrown toenails.
There are certain diseases prevalent in the Asian community, such as diabetes and leprosy. Habits such as smoking and alcohol abuse can cause poor blood flow or nerve sensation. Poor nerve sensation renders patients unable to feel sharp objects or trauma to the feet, leading to infections.
Poor blood circulation to the feet causes infections, which spread quickly, and tissues die, leading to ulcers and bone infection. When a bone is infected, it may need to be removed.
There are painful conditions such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, neuromas, hammertoes, and flat feet that are biomechanical in nature and cannot be treated with traditional Chinese medicine, but with physics. Oftentimes, either over-the-counter or custom prescription orthotics are needed.
These “glasses for the feet” work to decrease pain or prevent worsening of certain deformities by changing the way that forces from the ground work when they reach the feet.
One component of treatment is prevention. Oftentimes, an at-risk foot care is dangerously performed by oneself. Regular visits to a podiatrist are needed in at-risk populations to limit their risk of limb loss. (end)
Dr. Jinwah John Hoy is certified by both the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and the American Board of Primary Podiatric Orthopedics and Primary Podiatric Medicine. He also speaks Spanish, Taishanese, Cantonese, and Mandarin Chinese. He is the attending podiatrist at Kin On Health Care Center.