The kinds of conditions that we see in our foot and ankle practice include common things such as bunions, hammertoes, people who sustain overuse syndromes from, for instance, gardening or running in events, people who get foot sprains or ankle sprains from athletic events to even more severe things such as broken ankles, dislocations that can occur with trauma like a motor vehicle accident or falls.
The evaluation process for a patient who comes to a foot and ankle surgeon really starts with a very good history. Normally, 80 percent of the time you can figure out what’s wrong with the patient just by listening to that patient. We then use our physical examination to look at that patient critically based on their symptoms and then we come up with a diagnosis.
Most of the time in our practice we’re going to order an x-ray because we want to look at the bone structure of the foot. And at that point we come up with a diagnosis and we have a treatment plan. The vast majority of patients and I would estimate somewhere about 80 percent are not going to need surgery. We can get them better and more functional by using techniques such as physical therapy, resting with boots, braces, medications and even sometimes just reassurance that nothing serious is wrong and not doing themselves any harm.
Foot and ankle surgeons are exposed to a lot of patients with diabetes because they develop problems in their feet. They develop really two things that are problems. Number one is they develop hardening of the arteries that causes bad circulation to their feet and the second thing is they develop neuropathy which is a feeling of, they don’t have a normal sensation, they get burning and tingling. So patients with diabetes can develop problems on their feet and not even know it because they don’t feel the pain.
We are a leader both locally, nationally and globally in the treatment of foot and ankle conditions. In addition, we’ve really established a Center of Excellence for the treatment of limb salvage in diabetes and prevent amputations. So when you come to UPMC you’re going to get comprehensive care that can be taken care of whether it’s a problem with your skin, your soft tissues, your fractures, your bones, the whole gamut of treatment when you come here.