Meet Dr. Camella Potter, Naturopathic Physician at Northwest Foot & Ankle

ImageWe’d like to introduce you to Dr. Camella (Mia) Potter, one of Northwest Foot & Ankle‘s naturopathic doctors. We recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Potter. Below is our conversation. If you’re in Portland area and would like to schedule a visit with Dr. Potter, please schedule online or contact the clinic!

Dr. Potter, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. Please tell us a bit about yourself. 

I was always interested in health and studied nutrition in my undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, but I do have an area of weakness. My first job ever was at Baskin-Robbins. As much as I love broccoli, kale, other vegetables and good fats, I have a weakness for ice cream. Growing up I wanted to be a professional ice cream taster, critiquing new flavors of ice cream before they were on the market during the day hours and a professional lyrical dancer performing in shows in the evening. I ended up becoming a naturopathic doctor, which is a great fit for who I am, how I view people and desire to serve people.

Check out Dr. Potter’s full professional bio.

How did you become interested in foot care?

There were three main influences: my own personal experience; my husband’s plantar fasciosis and bunion pain that were alleviated by the use of Correct Toes; and interning with Dr. McClanahan during medical school. Being a gymnast and dancer, I was always barefoot and never had any physical ailments until I began wearing running shoes. I was diagnosed with a leg length discrepancy, was given a heel lift and wore Nike Air Shox type shoes when exercising. I started to develop knee and back pain, which have all been alleviated since implementing the Correct Toes and natural foot philosophy. My husband and I both now wear zero-drop shoes and Correct Toes and finished the Warrior Dash in minimalist Lems and Merrel’s on our 9th wedding anniversary this past year with no post-race ailments.

Describe a typical visit with you.

After listening to and learning more about a patient’s particular problem(s), I educate the patient on anatomy, particular exercises and the impact of certain types of shoes on foot alignment. The physical exam includes assessing range of motion, muscle testing and soft tissue work that brings relaxation and ease to patient’s feet. By supporting natural foot alignment, many foot problems are alleviated and prevented.

What results have you seen in your patients using a natural foot health approach?

I have witnessed great results with all different types of patients. I have seen patients who were unable to walk, run or hike because of their pain, return with increased mobility and pain resolution. There have also been patients scheduled for foot surgery that no longer had to undergo surgery because their symptoms were alleviated with our treatment plan. Patients who still have pain post-surgery of a bunion, neuroma or other foot issue have come to the clinic and also experienced improvement in their symptoms. There are a few more complex cases where pain does not improve as desired, but overall, I see patients reach their personal goals of mobility and activity with the implementation of the philosophy.

Which types of people have benefited the most?

The people who have implemented the treatment recommendations on a regular basis are the one’s that have benefitted the most. Age, type of activity and athletic ability do not have as much influence as doing the treatment regimen on a daily basis. The children we see will also benefit the most in the long-term, because if we can support natural foot alignment as they grow, many ailments which take years for us to change will have been prevented in them.

What feedback have you received from your patients about the natural foot health approach? Please feel free to share a patient or personal testimonial, or a patient’s story about recovery from a foot problem.

Some people respond very enthusiastically and some are skeptical about the philosophy, which makes sense when someone has dealt with a condition for some time, or adjusted their lives to accommodate to pain. It is great to see them gain understanding of the approach through the office visit.  When I place patients’ feet in their natural anatomic position, they experience the difference in ankle stability or range of motion of certain joints, and this seems to be their “Aha” moment. I had a patient who enjoyed walking but was not able to walk, because her foot pain was so severe. At her follow-up visit she was pain-free and had changed all of her shoes to zero- drop shoes, because this, along with other treatment recommendations, had solved her problems.

As a naturopathic doctor, you’re trained as a primary care physician and can address a broad range of health concerns. In addition to foot care, what are your other areas of interest and expertise?

Other areas of interest and involvement are serving an underprivileged population as their primary care provider, weight management, and nutrition and recovery support in sports medicine. The later two areas are areas that will eventually come to fruition in the future. Working as a nutritionist prior to becoming a naturopathic doctor, I saw the various dimensions involving weight loss, body image, and lifestyle habits. I hope to educate and empower patients in these various dimensions of weight management so that they can live mentally and physically healthier lives. Being a competitive athlete, my background in nutrition and medical school training as a naturopathic doctor, have sparked a passion to educate athletes and the active population. Gaining an understanding of the physiology of exercise and how to optimize function and recovery through nutrition and other treatments can benefit health and performance.

Thank you, Dr. Potter, for sharing your experience, and for helping keep Portlanders pain-free and active!

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