Healing Steps: Foot and Ankle Care
When Maryland Heights resident Stephanie Will fell a few months ago and broke her ankle, she was concerned about more than the physical side of her healing process. She also deals with anxiety issues and was worried about how she would handle surgery and recovery. Will says her fears were put to rest after meeting with SLUCare foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Megan Walters, who operated on her at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.
“Dr. Walters was wonderful,” she says. “She is the kind of doctor who remembers the little personal details about a patient, and that means a lot. She and her team worked hard to make me feel better at every step. I had never written a review about anything in my life, but when the hospital sent me a patient survey, I had to respond. My experience with the SLUCare staff was great.”
[Dr. Walters]and the nursing staff understood my concerns, and they kept me laughing and smiling throughout so I wouldn’t focus on my anxiety.”SLUCare patient Stephanie Will
Will had a fracture at the bottom of her fibula, so Walters inserted a plate and screws to stabilize the joint and help the bone heal. During a follow-up visit, the doctor noticed she was still walking with a limp, so she addressed the problem right away. “Dr. Walters taught me to concentrate on walking properly so I wouldn’t have future problems with my gait,” Will says. “She and the nursing staff understood my concerns, and they kept me laughing and smiling throughout so I wouldn’t focus on my anxiety. They were helpful from start to finish.”
Walters says there are a number of reasons a patient may require foot or ankle care. Bone and soft tissue injuries are common, and so are conditions like bunions, hammertoes, arthritis and flat feet. And in cases where surgery isn’t needed, doctors can work with patients to decide on the most effective medical treatment.
“With most bony surgical procedures, you need strong fixation in the area, especially in a situation like Stephanie’s involving a weight-bearing joint,” Walters explains. “Bones generally take six to eight weeks to heal, so we need to hold things in place while the body repairs itself. Sometimes, implanted plates and screws can be removed later if the joint is stable.” She says the ankle generally does the same amount of weight bearing as a knee or hip joint, but the actual stress can be even greater when the person does strenuous activities like running or walking up stairs.
Because the foot is made up of intricate joints, operating on it can be a complex process, so it’s important to consult with a knowledgeable surgeon. Foot and ankle patients now can access services at a new SLUCare office at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Fenton. Walters says that at the beginning of July, she will start seeing Friday appointments in the hospital’s St. Francis Building, and she looks forward to helping patients heal and return to normal activities. “We want to be sure each person regains as much mobility and flexibility as possible,” she says. “Recovery of these joints doesn’t happen overnight; it requires physical therapy, follow-up and a commitment from the patient and medical team. We work together to ensure the process goes smoothly from beginning to end.”
SLUCare Physician Group provides a complete range of medical and surgical services to treat foot and ankle injuries and disorders. Starting July 1, patients can be seen in Suite 400 of the St. Francis Building at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Fenton. For more information, call 314-977-4440 or learn more online.
By: Julia M. Johnson