Podiatrists are experts at feet. Feet are essential to the way we carry out our day; most importantly by allowing us to walk. We each take thousands of steps each day. Unlike little toddlers who have to concentrate on every moment of each step, it is totally subconscious for us after we've been doing it for a while. We don't notice how our steps carry us from one activity to the next until something goes wrong. We've all experienced that split second of a wrong step that ended in catastrophe. A slip, trip or fall and we wound up with broken bones, broken dishes, or just broken pride. Sometimes, it's a little more subtle. Rather than one misstep, it's a long series of incorrect steps in improper footwear that lead us to foot pain.
When a podiatrist analyzes your gait, he/she is looking for the early warning signs that you may be at a higher risk for one of these sources of pain. Falls from unbalance (very important for our older patients) and chronic pain from misalignment or improper foot structure (more important for those with active lives).
While there are cases in which the doctor can tell what the problem is almost as soon as he walks into the room (like for an ingrown toenail) other conditions may require more diagnostic testing, such as an X-ray, ultrasound, or gait analysis. In these cases, a test must be performed and there must be an educated professional available to interpret the results. If the problem is with pain or locomotion, a gait analysis may be just the tool you need to find the solution to your pain!