September 22, 2022 by John Fernandez
Orthopedic Care: Taking Steps to Address Your Foot and Ankle Pain
Your feet are your body’s foundation, so taking good care of them is important to your overall health. Years of wear and tear, sports injuries, poor-fitting shoes and genetics can lead to foot disorders that impact your mobility and quality of life, says Justin M. Weatherall, M.D., a Board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care.
Dr. Weatherall specializes in foot and ankle surgery, treats a variety of orthopedic conditions affecting your feet and ankles.
A bunion, also known as hallux valgus, is a malalignment of the knuckle of the big toe. This malalignment causes the big toe to turn toward the smaller ones and creates a bump at the base of the toe. Bunions can be painful and generally get worse over time.
Although some people think they should see a podiatrist for bunion treatment, orthopedic surgeons like Dr. Weatherall are highly skilled at treating this condition using advanced methods. To straighten the big toe joint, Dr. Weatherall performs a minimally invasive, outpatient surgical procedure called metatarsal osteotomy or bunionectomy. The innovative procedure is executed through a few tiny incisions, instead of the long incisions most often used in traditional techniques. By avoiding large incisions, fewer soft tissues are 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 whatever shoes they like and resume all activities with no 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. An Achilles tendon rupture is a full or partial tear of the tendon. This acute injury tends to happen to weekend warriors between the ages of 25 and 55 who do not regularly train but then play sports or exercise at a high intensity, says Dr. Weatherall.
Most providers recommend surgical repair of a torn Achilles tendon in people who are active and middle-aged or younger. Dr. Weatherall performs minimally invasive surgery to help lower the risk of complications. Full healing typically 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 prosthetics. Patients with ankle arthritis who are experiencing pain and decreased mobility that do not improve with other treatments are good candidates for this joint replacement procedure. “Whereas the knee and hip develop arthritis with wear and tear, about 75 percent of people with ankle arthritis have had some type of previous trauma to the ankle,” Dr. Weatherall said.
Recovery from total ankle replacement takes six to 12 months. After surgery, most people wear a splint or a cast to keep the ankle immobilized and use crutches or a walker. Physical therapy is prescribed to help patients regain strength and mobility in the ankle.
Many people do not realize that ankle replacement surgery is an option, Dr. Weatherall says. Although total ankle replacement surgery is not as common as knee and hip replacement, Dr. Weatherall has been performing the procedure for more than 11 years with great success. Since he is fellowship 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 other surgeons who do not have the same training and experience. And when it comes to orthopedic surgery, the 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, arthritis of the midfoot and hindfoot, 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.