Q&A with Foot & Ankle Specialist Dr. Lee

August 3, 2022
Q&A with Foot & Ankle Specialist Dr. Lee
Wonyong Lee, MD
Wonyong Lee, MD
Foot/Ankle Specialist

What are a few of the common foot and ankle conditions that you treat?

WL: As an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist, I treat a wide variety of conditions, but there are some more common ones I see in my office. Hallux valgus (bunions) and hallux rigidus (big toe arthritis) are the two most common forefoot diseases. For hindfoot, Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and ankle arthritis are common. I also treat many sports injuries, including ankle instability and foot and ankle fractures.

What can patients expect on their first visit to your office?

WL: During a patient’s first visit, I do a thorough physical examination and review of medical history and take a weight-bearing foot/ankle X-ray. This helps me figure out the patient’s major concerns, find the main source of pain and set up the treatment plan. Evaluation and treatment are customized to each individual because every patient has different levels of activity, pain level, pain threshold, and different goals for their treatment.

Are non-surgical options available through your practice?

WL: Absolutely. I always try non-surgical treatments first, except for patients with more urgent cases such as trauma or infection. There are many non-surgical treatments available for the field of foot and ankle. We can try medication, steroid injection, or bracing for ankle arthritis. Formal physical therapy, bracing, or shoe modification should be good options for chronic ankle instability. There is no rush to jump into surgery in most cases.

At what point do you recommend surgery for a patient?

WL: If non-surgical methods are not sufficient and their pain is affecting their daily activities, I recommend surgery for better function and to help get them back to their usual lifestyle. I want my patients to be as comfortable as possible.

What is the recovery like for a foot or ankle surgery?

WL: As there is a broad spectrum of conditions, the recovery following a foot and ankle surgery will vary, and even the patient’s bone characteristics will impact recovery.
Forefoot surgeries including bunion correction usually need 6 to 8 weeks in a surgical shoe or boot, bearing weight on the heel.
Following hindfoot surgeries such as ankle surgery or Achilles tendon repair, a patient generally needs 4 to 8 weeks of non-weight-bearing in a splint, hard cast, or boot to protect the surgical sites.

How would someone know when it’s time to make an appointment with your office?

WL: Please don’t hesitate to come in if you have any pain or other symptoms in your foot and ankle. Timing is very important and the longer you wait, the more complicated treatment becomes. I especially recommend you come to see me if you have any pain from a recent foot and ankle injury or trauma. If you continue to live with that pain, you may be worsening the injury. I am more than happy to work with you to figure out the problem and discuss proper treatments to help get you back to the activities you love.

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