Taking steps to treat your foot and ankle pain

Your feet are the foundation of your body, so taking care of them is important for your overall health. Years of wear and tear, sports injuries, ill-fitting shoes and genetics can lead to foot disorders that impact your mobility and quality of life, says Justin M. Weatherall, MD, Baptist Health Board-Certified Orthopedic Surgeon Orthopedic Care.

Dr. Weatherall specializes in foot and ankle surgery, treats a variety of orthopedic conditions affecting your feet and ankles.

Onion processing

A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, is a misalignment of the big toe joint. This misalignment causes the big toe to rotate towards the smaller ones and creates a bump at the base of the toe. Bunions can be painful and usually get worse over time.

Justin M. Weatherall, MD, Certified Orthopedic Surgeon by Baptist Health Orthopedic Care.

Although some people think they should see a podiatrist for bunion treatment, orthopedic surgeons like Dr. Weatherall are highly skilled in treating this condition using advanced methods. To straighten the big toe joint, Dr. Weatherall performs a minimally invasive outpatient surgery called a metatarsal osteotomy or bunionectomy. The innovative procedure is performed through a few tiny incisions, instead of the long incisions more often used in traditional techniques. By avoiding large incisions, less soft tissue is disrupted, so patients experience less pain and swelling, faster bone healing, and a quicker return to activity.

“Recovery from this procedure involves wearing a special surgical shoe for about six weeks,” Dr. Weatherall explained. “After six weeks, patients can wear comfortable sneakers, and in three to four months, most patients can wear the shoes they like and resume all activities without any restrictions from me.”

Achilles rupture repair

The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone and is the largest and strongest tendon in the body. A ruptured Achilles tendon is a total or partial tearing of the tendon. This acute injury tends to occur in weekend warriors between the ages of 25 and 55 who don’t train regularly but then play sports or do high-intensity exercise, Dr. Weatherall says.

Most providers recommend surgical repair of a torn Achilles tendon in active, middle-aged or younger people. Dr. Weatherall performs minimally invasive surgery to help reduce the risk of complications. Full recovery usually takes about four to six months and includes physical therapy to gain strength.

Total ankle replacement

Total ankle replacement, or ankle arthroplasty, replaces damaged parts of the ankle with prostheses. Patients with ankle arthritis who experience pain and reduced mobility that does not improve with other treatments are good candidates for this joint replacement procedure. “While the knee and hip develop arthritis with wear, about 75% of people with ankle arthritis have experienced some type of ankle trauma,” Dr. Weatherall said.

Recovery after total ankle replacement surgery takes six to 12 months. After surgery, most people wear a splint or cast to keep the ankle immobilized and use crutches or a walker. Physical therapy is prescribed to help patients regain ankle strength and mobility.

Many people don’t realize that ankle replacement surgery is an option, says Dr. Weatherall. Although total ankle replacement surgery is not as common as knee and hip replacement, Dr. Weatherall has been performing the procedure for over 11 years with great success. Since he is trained in foot and ankle surgery, the number of total ankle replacement surgeries – and other foot and ankle surgeries – he performs is much higher than that of other surgeons who do not have the same training and experience. And when it comes to orthopedic surgery, a surgeon’s training, experience and volume can make all the difference in a patient’s recovery and outcome.

Foot and ankle orthopedic consultation

Dr. Weatherall also treats ankle and foot fractures, midfoot and hindfoot arthritis, ankle instability and more. To discuss treatment options for foot and ankle conditions, patients can request an appointment with Dr. Weatherall by visiting BaptistHealth.net/Ortho or calling 833-556-6764.

Tags: ankle surgery, Baptist Health Orthopedic Care, foot pain, orthopedic surgery

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