Foot and ankle care: From sports medicine to complex anomalies

Feb. 09, 2022

As a major tertiary center, Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, has experience and expertise with the gamut of foot and ankle conditions. Mayo's patient-centered approach helps injured athletes return to play and helps young people with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease gain optimal foot and ankle function.

"We are committed to providing destination medical center care, regardless of the complexity of the injury," says Edward T. Haupt, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Haupt is a former all-American football player and two-time national champion at the University of Florida. As an orthopedic surgery fellow, he gained experience treating Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Signs and symptoms of this rare, inherited disease typically appear in adolescence or early adulthood.

"The effects of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease vary a lot among individuals," Dr. Haupt says. "There are real nuances that impact treatment."

Coordinated approach for all patients

Mayo Clinic's sports medicine practice provides care for recreational, amateur and professional athletes. In addition to including orthopedic surgeons, the treatment team comprises specialists in imaging, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and physical therapy. "We work as a whole to make it as easy as possible for patients to get the coordinated care they need," Dr. Haupt says.

That coordinated approach extends to individuals with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Genetic testing is used to rule out other neuropathies and to provide information for family planning. To evaluate nerve damage, Mayo Clinic uses nerve conduction studies, electromyography and nerve biopsies. "Great care is required to precisely determine the extent of paralysis," Dr. Haupt says.

For individuals with severe deformities, corrective surgery can help relieve pain and improve mobility. "The surgeries can take five or six hours," Dr. Haupt says. "Besides reconstructing the foot, we need to transfer tendons to obtain function in the reconstructed foot."

Despite that complexity, treatment outcomes are often positive. "Patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease are usually in high school or recently graduated. They've had a hard time socially and can't play any sports. But after surgery, patients often walk without difficulty, don't need braces, and are even able to play golf or use a jump-rope," Dr. Haupt says.

Mayo Clinic's expertise in telemedicine can facilitate remote initial consultations and follow-up care. "If patients decide after an initial video visit that they want to pursue surgery, they can come to Mayo Clinic for imaging, meet the surgical team and then have surgery. About two weeks later, they can go home and do most of the follow-up remotely," Dr. Haupt says. "Our system is well suited to providing destination medical center care."

For more information

Refer a patient to Mayo Clinic.