My aching back

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Ouch! My aching back! Or maybe it an aching knee or even a headache that has caused you to ask yourself, do I need to see a doctor? The answer is perhaps we do or perhaps we don’t because such pains may be caused by foot problems. This was the message provided to the Pattaya City Expats Club at their May 8, 2011, meeting at the Amari’s Tavern by the Sea Restaurant by Rudy van der Lubben, the only trained Podiatrist in Thailand.

However, before Rudy spoke, the first order of business for Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg was to introduce some very special guests. Fellow member Sermsakdi introduced and translated for Chaowalit Sangutai, the new Nai Amphur (District Chief) for Banglamung. Chaowalit was accompanied by two of his staff and said he was happy to be back in Banglamung where he served previously. Further, he thanked the Pattaya City Expats Club for its services to the Banglamung community and said he was looking forward to working with the Club for the benefit of the district.

Fellow member Sermsakdi (left) introduces and translates for Chaowalit Sangutai (right), the new Nai Amphur (District Chief) for Banglamung. Chaowalit, accompanied by two of his staff, said he was happy to be back in Banglamung & looked forward to working with the Pattaya City Expats Club. Fellow member Sermsakdi (left) introduces and translates for Chaowalit Sangutai (right), the new Nai Amphur (District Chief) for Banglamung. Chaowalit, accompanied by two of his staff, said he was happy to be back in Banglamung & looked forward to working with the Pattaya City Expats Club.

In introducing Rudy van der Lubben, Richard Silverberg pointed out that Rudy’s practice is accepted in the Netherlands where he received his training and by the Ministry of Health here in Thailand where he has practiced for 12 years. He founded his clinic in Bangkok and has now established another clinic in Pattaya.  Rudy started his talk by explaining why he thinks he is the only Podiatrist (foot doctor) in Thailand. He said that in western countries there are not many Podiatrists. He surmises this is because many doctors don’t like to handle feet and, in Thailand in particular, there are some cultural issues about feet. He said he wanted to make it clear that although Podiatrists are university trained, they are not medical doctors. Thus, they cannot diagnose medical illnesses or prescribe medicines. Their training relates to problems one can have with their feet, diagnosing those problems, and providing treatment including orthotic foot wear.

Often, people do not realize that their aches and pains are related to problems with their feet, such as flat feet, heel bone spurs, high arched feet, Achilles tendonitis, toe abnormalities, and foot deformity. Rudy showed several diagrams as he explained the various foot problems and how they can cause pain. Back pain, for instance can be caused by a difference in leg length. Flat feet cause various rotations throughout the legs during the walking cycle. The end result is a forward tilt of the pelvis which in turn increases the normal curvature of the spine and places strain on the muscles and ligaments of the lower back.

Ouch! My aching back! Rudy explains that ailments elsewhere in the body, such as back pain, can originate in the feet. Ouch! My aching back! Rudy explains that ailments elsewhere in the body, such as back pain, can originate in the feet.

When you visit his clinic, he goes through several steps to determine if your ailments are foot related including gait analysis and functional testing. Rudy pointed out that your foot is different when walking than when stationary and must be examined under both situations.  He said he will start by obtaining your history including whether your work or activities involve walking, standing, sitting, or sports and what problems (complaints) you are experiencing. He also has equipment to measure gait and make a blue print of your foot. He will also examine your foot gear.  If it is a foot problem, the treatment can be through certain exercises and often may involve orthotic appliances. Rudy then explained that he has his own laboratory where they hand make orthopedic shoes or supports to correct foot problem. They will continue to monitor how the orthopedic appliances are working for you and make adjustments if necessary.

Rudy then answered several questions from the audience. A few asked questions about gout and Rudy explained that gout was caused by a medical problem and needs to be treated by a physician not a podiatrist. If your pains do not appear to be the result of foot problems, Rudy said he will advise you to seek a medical evaluation.  Rudy also brought one of his diagnostic machines to the meeting and provided some free evaluations in the back alcove after his talk. Rudy has a website providing information about his location, diagnosis, and treatment, which is http://www.footclinic.asia/.

Richard Silverberg then updated everyone on Club activities and upcoming events before turning it over to David Meador to conduct the always informative Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about living in Thailand, Pattaya in particular.