As specialists, patients often come to us after they’ve first been to see a primary care physician such as a general practitioner, a family doctor, or even a pediatrician. This usually means that our patients have some idea about what to expect from us—perhaps their physician has told them they need a specific type of treatment or has made a well-educated guess about what we’ll have to say.
But as specialists, we’re uniquely trained and experienced with all matters of the lower limbs, and that means that our recommendations may ultimately differ from what a patient may have thought when they first come in to see us.
Let’s take foot surgery, for example.
Before I go any further: my colleagues and I are foot and ankle surgeons. Surgery is part of what we’re trained to do, and it is a regular part of our practice.
Thankfully, however, very few of the problems we treat on a daily basis require immediate surgical attention—something I’m sure our patients are happy about.
Our philosophy here is pretty simple. In fact, it’s one shared by many physicians of all kinds:
Do the right thing for every patient all of the time.
We also like the phrase “Just because you can do surgery , doesn’t mean you should.”
There are many well trained foot docs in town, but some book surgery as a first choice, and when patients come to us after the fact, we have see some pretty scary complications by over zealous surgeons.
I dont want that to imply that surgery is to be avoided, just well thought through beforehand.
And when it comes to surgery, we always have to remember:
- Surgery is often irreversible
- Surgery can be painful, and always carries with it unavoidable risks
- Often there are significant viable alternatives that should be considered first
Ultimately, our goal is to provide the very best treatment for every patient based upon the unique circumstances of their situation. Sometimes, of course, surgery is the right option.
But don’t be surprised if we try something less drastic first.
Here’s an example: consider the case written up by my fellow podiatrist, Dr. William Fishco, DPM FACFAS. It involved a 14-year-old, 200-pound young man who had been told he was “flatfooted” and had not outgrown an unusual gait. His family had taken him to a pediatrician, and he’d gone on to see a podiatrist who recommended surgery.
Dr. Fishco—who evaluated the young man to provide a second opinion—rightly (in my opinion) decided that surgery was unnecessary and recommended orthotics along with calf and ankle stretches to correct the issues. Interestingly, the young man did not have any pain and participated in sports and other activities with no problem.
In this situation, surgery could have actually caused more problems than it solved.
Orthotics and Other Neat Gadgetry
When there is pain or other trouble with the feet, we now have some amazing orthotics and other tools available to us thanks to some great research and development work over the years. They aren’t always the right solution for every case, but especially when surgery is on the table, don’t be surprised if we offer orthotics or other simpler treatment options first.
It reminds me of something our “computer geek” often says when he asks us if the printer is turned on and plugged in before diving into the full-on troubleshooting: “Always solve the easy problem first.”
And now that my printer is printing again… I can go back to seeing patients.
Do you have foot or ankle pain? If you or a loved one are looking for a foot doctor in Sarasota or Bradenton, my colleagues and I would be happy to help! Please schedule an appointment with Dr. Lasday, Dr. Zdancewicz, or Dr. Goecker for a thorough and professional evaluation, either in our Bradenton Podiatry office at (941) 753-9599 or our Sarasota Podiatry office at (941) 366-2627.
Oh, and one more thing… if you haven’t already, please like us on Facebook where we share foot tips, great pictures, and fun facts!