*The article below was previously posted on the Illinois Medical Association website and is shared with permission.
Talking Foot Health
Dr. Patrick McEneaney is Vice President of the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association (IPMA). He joined Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists as a full-time DPM (Doctor of Podiatric Medicine) in 2009. His professional interests involve advanced reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle. He specializes in flatfoot reconstruction, post-traumatic injury management, deformity correction and wound care.
Dr. McEneaney is on staff at Advocate Good Shepherd and Centegra Hospitals, and he also is involved with the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons.
With April being National Foot Health Awareness Month, Dr. McEneaney took time to talk about foot health awareness, misconceptions about podiatry and why he decided to pursue a career in the industry.
What is the number one thing people can learn about properly taking care of their feet?
I think people need to listen to their bodies. Often people have foot or ankle pain that lasts more than a couple days. People tend to ignore the pain, hoping it will get better. If an individual sees a podiatrist earlier on, often the condition does not progress into a serious issue. If the patient and the podiatrist catch the problem early on, it can be addressed more easily.
Why don’t you think more people visit podiatrists when their feet start to be bothersome?
I think the biggest barrier to patients seeing a doctor right now is time. We all live busy lives and to carve time out of the day to see a doctor is difficult. Often people go online to find a quick and easy answer. While this can be helpful, it can also lead people astray. Everybody online can be their own expert. I see patients who have tried “old wives tales” that have no evidence-based backing.
What are some examples of those “old wives’ tales”?
Duct tape does not heal warts! Apple cider vinegar does not treat toenail fungus. Soaking your feet can help some conditions but can be problematic for other conditions. I think it’s best for the patient to see a podiatrist so they can get a proper diagnosis and an evidence-based treatment plan.
What’s the biggest misconception about podiatry?
A lot of people don’t understand the full scope of what we do. A lot of people think we just cut toenails and treat bunions and callouses. In fact, many of us are very well trained in complex conditions of the foot and ankle. In my practice we treat wounds, diabetic foot problems, fractures. We also perform reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle. Our training is very thorough.
What interested you most about pursuing a career in podiatry?
Within podiatry, there’s a lot of diversity in the patient conditions that we treat. On an average day I can see patients with skin problems, muscle and joint problems, nerve problems, vascular problems or just abnormalities of their gait. What interested me the most is that for a lot of patients, I can provide them care and have them leaving the office better than when they came in. It’s a very rewarding position.
What do you enjoy most about your IPMA role?
What I enjoy the most about working with the IPMA is our team efforts. Together, we get to help shape the current climate for podiatry and try to determine how we can further help the profession. By doing this we are able to increase patient’s access to seeing podiatrists in their area.