Foot & Ankle Surgery

The feet and ankles are a critical part of a person’s mobility, so it is important to take great care of them. They also take on a great deal of stress, so any problems that develop can severely limit a person’s mobility.

Dr. Matthew Wilson is our foot and ankle specialist at Orthopedic Specialists of San Diego. Dr. Wilson has extensive training in foot and ankle surgery. His residency at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center involved several rotations at the Grant Medical Center Orthopedic Trauma Fellowship and Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center in Westerville, OH. There, he worked closely with several reputable surgeons in the foot and ankle community. Dr. Wilson also completed a fellowship with nationally-renowned surgeons at The CORE Institute in Phoenix, AZ, which focuses on total ankle replacement, trauma, complex reconstruction, sports medicine, and arthroscopy.

Below are some of Dr. Wilson’s specialties in foot and ankle surgery.

Ankle Replacement

Ankle arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and inflammation that makes it difficult to walk, severely limiting a person’s mobility. Ankle arthritis develops when there is damage to the articular cartilage, a smooth tissue that covers the bones in the joint and allows it to glide more easily with movement. Common locations for arthritis include the big toe joint, the midfoot, the hindfoot, or the ankle. Ankle arthritis can develop due to a variety of reasons - the most common is from a previous injury to the ankle (post-traumatic arthritis). It could also be due to an autoimmune condition (such as rheumatoid arthritis), or wear and tear on the joint over time (osteoarthritis).

Symptoms of ankle arthritis include:

  • Pain when moving the ankle, or pain with physical activity
  • Tenderness when putting pressure on the ankle
  • Swelling in the ankle
  • Ankle pain and swelling that is worse in the morning or after a period of rest
  • Difficulty walking due to ankle pain and swelling

Initial treatment for ankle arthritis is nonsurgical, including physical therapy, ankle braces, and anti-inflammatory medications and injections. Lifestyle modifications, like losing weight and switching to lower-impact activities may also be recommended. If nonsurgical treatments do not relieve symptoms and the arthritis affects a patient’s function in daily activities, then surgery may be considered.

Traditionally, surgery for ankle arthritis has involved an ankle fusion, during which the damaged cartilage is removed and the ankle is permanently fused in place using pins, plates, screws, and/or rods. While this procedure can be effective for relieving pain, it limits motion in the ankle and can lead to arthritis in adjacent joints.

Ankle joint replacement has emerged as an alternative to fusion as the evolution of surgical techniques and improved implants have led to better patient outcomes and increasing popularity. Dr. Wilson also offers total ankle replacement, which may be a better option for some patients as it has the ability to relieve pain while maintaining ankle range of motion.

Much like other joint replacement procedures, total ankle replacement involves removing the damaged, diseased surface of the joint and replacing it with implants. This allows the patient to retain ankle motion and begin weight-bearing sooner, within 2 weeks of surgery. It takes about a year to completely recover and see the full results of a total ankle replacement.

Ankle replacement can be done for any age patient, but ideal candidates are those patients between 50-70 years old, have good bone quality, little to no existing ankle deformity, and participate in mild to moderate activity.

Ankle Arthroscopy

Ankle arthroscopy is a procedure that can be used for several different conditions, including sports injuries, chronic ankle pain, and fractures. In addition to imaging and clinical diagnosis, Dr. Wilson also uses ankle arthroscopy for diagnostic purposes in some cases.

During an ankle arthroscopy procedure, Dr. Wilson uses a small camera called an arthroscope to view the inside of the ankle through a small incision. The camera will display images on a monitor in the operating room, allowing Dr. Wilson to view the structures in the ankle without having to make a large incision. If needed, he can make additional small incisions to insert operating instruments to complete the procedure.

Because ankle arthroscopy uses much smaller incisions than open surgery, it is considered a minimally invasive procedure. Ankle arthroscopy can often be done in an outpatient setting, allowing patients to return home the same day. It can also lead to earlier mobility and a quicker recovery.

Dr. Wilson uses ankle arthroscopy for the following conditions and procedures:

  • Arthroscopic ankle fusion
  • Treating chronic ankle pain
  • Evaluating and repairing ankle ligaments
  • Removing scar tissue from the ankle
  • Removing bone spurs from the ankle
  • Treating traumatic and sports injuries
  • Fixing ankle fractures that involve soft tissue and cartilage damage (this is very common with ankle fractures)
  • Treating locking and clicking in the ankle
  • Treating chronic ankle instability

Foot & Ankle Surgery in San Diego

Dr. Matthew Wilson is a fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle surgery. His training focused on advanced foot and ankle surgery, including total ankle replacement and ankle arthroscopy. Dr. Wilson studied under nationally recognized foot and ankle surgeons, and he brings that advanced training to patients in San Diego and the surrounding communities. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wilson, please call our office at 619-286-9480 or use our Appointment Request form.