Husband and wife Drs. Kristina Barreiro-Robertson and Taylor Robertson are the podiatrists behind NOLA Sole Podiatry (1477 Louisiana Ave., Suite 101, 504-302-1586; www.nolasolepodiatry.com), a practice that treats New Orleans residents' foot ailments.
"Podiatry is basically the medicine of anything below the knee," Barreiro-Robertson says. "We take care of anything that's sports related, congenital or idiopathic, (which is) something that somebody has developed over time."
The Robertsons emphasize that feet must be considered when it comes to overall health. Podiatry is one of the few medical professions that can deliver immediate results, often relieving pain or discomfort in just one visit.
"It's a very rewarding and fulfilling field because the majority of the patients who come to see us feel better after they come to see us," Robertson says. "One of our mottos is 'Limp in, but walk out.'"
Though medical technology has advanced, podiatry is still a tactile and intimate specialization, requiring physicians to use their hands in diagnosis and treatment.
"There's also an old-school aspect to our profession," Robertson says. "Whereas a lot of surgeries are moving toward robots and highly specialized machines that are performing these procedures, we're still treating a lot of the things that we do with our hand skills, the same way we did half a century ago."
Taylor and Kristina met in medical school, at Barry University in Miami. They chose podiatry as their specialization and bonded over their shared passion.
"I got into podiatry because I had a lot of sports-related injuries in my feet from being a dancer, and getting treated multiple times by my regular doctor wasn't doing it for me, so someone suggested a podiatrist and that's how I healed up my feet," Barreiro-Robertson says.
Some people try to push through the pain or find home remedies, but the Robertsons strongly advise people to come in for profession- al treatment.
"There's a significant number of the population that believes that minor amounts of foot pain or discomfort is just everyday wear-and-tear and normal," Robertson says. "That's not true at all. Foot pain is not normal and it can be corrected, so that's something to emphasize. If you're having foot pain, there's something going on that's not right."
Podiatry works best as preventive medicine. Diabetics and people who are at risk of falling and fracturing their hips should consider seeing a podiatrist regularly. Diabetics must be proactive to avoid calluses, which can lead to foot ulcers and bone infections. People who are at risk for falls can get custom bracing to minimize that risk. Proper shoes also can prevent foot issues down the line.
"There's been (a trend) of these designer shoe brands that are flashy and look cute but they don't serve very many functions or the biomechanics of your foot," Barreiro-Robertson says.
Most important, the doctors at NOLA Sole stress that people should not ignore foot pain.
"We get people that come in once it's so painful. We try to remind them that their feet are the tires of the human body," Barreiro-Robertson says. "They hold your entire body weight, so they definitely need to be checked on regularly."