Diagnosis is the identification and naming of a disease, illness or condition. It is commonly acknowledged that diagnosis is the hardest part of medicine. In the United States only a licensed medical professional is legally allowed to make a diagnosis.
Assessment, on the other hand, is an evaluation made by a healthcare provider to make an informed decision on whether or not to provide service, and if yes, what approach to take.
As a reflexologist and massage therapist, my qualifications allow me to assess the health of my client’s tissue through palpation, visual cues and information shared with me by the client. I cannot – nor am I qualified to – diagnose. I am not a foot doctor.
Not labeling my client’s condition in no way demeans my knowledge or abilities. Rather, it keeps me compliant with my license to practice and gives me the means by which to communicate my skill at understanding the situation.
As an example, rather than declare that my client has a Morton’s neuroma, I can state that, based on her report of tingling between the third and fourth digits, toe cramping and sharp, shooting, burning pain in the metatarsal heads that increases proportionally to the amount of time she spends on her feet, she is exhibiting symptoms of a possible nerve injury in her foot. Thinking in this way teaches me to focus on the tissue, rather than attempting to identify a disease.
The importance of good communication skills comes up a lot during the How to Relieve Chronic Foot Pain workshops. In that 2-day training we look at 19 different foot conditions, how conventional medicine treats, what we, as bodyworkers, can do, and equally important, how we speak about these complaints.
When a client tells me that her foot pain is excruciating, burning, stabbing, when she first gets out of bed in the morning, I don’t have to say, “Yep, sounds like you have plantar fasciitis.” Instead, I can reassure her that I have heard that from many others and that I can help.
After all, that’s all most people are looking for. Relief.
If you’d like to learn how to help people with chronic foot pain, including plantar fasciitis, then please join an upcoming How to Relieve Chronic Foot Pain workshop.