Did you know the human foot contains 28 bones, approximately 30 joints, and over 100 different muscles, tendons, and ligaments?
“The foot has many moving parts and is a complex structure. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong,” said Dr. Kyle Johnson.
And he should know.
Dr. Johnson is board certified in foot surgery and reconstructive rearfoot and ankle surgery by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery. He has seen it all as a specialist in a mixture of podiatric medicine and reconstructive surgery now at Tidewater Foot and Ankle Associates.
You may recognize the last name from Dr. Megan Johnson, practice founder, and you’d be correct in assuming the two are related. After seven years in private practice in the Largo/Clearwater area, in 2021, Dr. Johnson joined his wife at Tidewater Foot and Ankle Associates.
“I love being able to collaborate with my wife and work side-by-side with her.”
A local Palm Harbor native and East Lake High School graduate, while earning his bachelor’s degree at USF, he worked in the orthotics and prosthetics department at Shriner’s Hospital where he crafted limbs and braces for children with various deformities and limb correction.
“I saw a wide array of pathology involving the lower extremities – the legs, ankles, and feet. I wanted to get more into the medical and surgical side of patient care that way.”
After medical school, he completed a 3-year surgical residency at the Yale Foot and Ankle Surgical Residency affiliated with Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, CT.
At Tidewater Foot and Ankle Associates, Dr. Johnson specializes in flatfoot management and surgical correction, Achilles repair, Haglund’s deformity correction, arthritis management of the foot and ankle, cartilage preservation, sports medicine, tendon and ligament repair, traumatic injury correction, and fracture care, bunion correction, diabetic limb salvage, and lower extremity biomechanics.
In layman’s terms, he does extensive evaluation of watching patients walk and how their foot and ankle moves, and how that relates to the rest of the lower extremity – including problems associated with the knee, hip, and back.
“This is very important to be able to understand the function and educate patients why they have certain symptoms and conditions. Patient counseling and education are very important to us.”
When treating diabetic patients, many times, because they don’t have much feeling in their feet due to diabetic neuropathy, patients don’t realize they have a wound, infection or injury. This puts them at risk of having dangerous problems. Some symptoms include skin color change, swelling, loss of hair growth, numbness, pain, cramping, and burning with walking.
“Pressure areas with calluses or blistering are high risk for problems. If we can catch that early and treat it, we can prevent many long-term issues including ulcers, infection, and limb loss. We are very proactive with patient education, especially with diabetic patients, so that they understand their condition, and risk factors related to their foot type, sensation, and circulation. We’re very aggressive in identifying problems early on”, he said. “With diabetic limb salvage work, many times we can save someone from losing their toe(s), foot or leg, and that is always very gratifying.”
BACK-TO-SCHOOL FOOT PAIN
With kids going back to school, the practice sees many kids complaining of pain in their feet that was once dismissed as ‘growing pains’.
“We see a lot of issues with kids and heel pain. Heel pain and arch pain rank among the most common complaints among students who wear flip-flops. Flip-flops do not cushion or support the foot, so repetitive stress from walking can inflame that heel bone growth area and cause pain and tenderness.”
Obesity and overuse injuries such as playing multiple sports (often times requiring cleats), can also play a role. Dr. Johnson stresses that all complaints of foot or ankle pain should be addressed.
“Heel pain in children is different than adults. Typically the heel bone in kids doesn’t fully develop until age 14 or 15. In kids ages, 8 to 14, pain and inflammation occur along with the growth plate and Achilles tendon area. A low or high-arch foot can put the child at risk for acute and chronic problems. Pain is not always from natural growing pains, and it is essential to identify that early on and have it evaluated and treated. We encourage parents to bring their children for an evaluation,” he stressed. “Whenever your child says they’re experiencing pain or fatigue, that’s never normal. It should be checked out.”
For adult patients who have tried steroid injections, over-the-counter or custom orthotics, physical therapy, and shockwave therapy (ESWT), the practice now offers state-of-the-art FDA-cleared regenerative medicine treatment indicated for acute and chronic conditions such as plantar fasciitis/fasciosis, Achilles tendonitis/tendinosis, posterior tibial tendonitis, peroneal tendonitis, painful scar tissue, and ligament damage in severe sprains.
“Regenerative therapy utilizes a fetal umbilical cord and amniotic tissue particulate. It’s a safe and effective treatment to combat inflammatory and degenerative disease and serves as a great non-surgical treatment option. The procedure is performed in-office under local anesthesia and ultrasound-guidance.”
Dr. Johnson notes that his favorite part about being in this field is his specialization.
“It’s understanding and being an expert in everything involved with the lower leg, ankle, and foot, and being equipped to treat every condition and problem that occurs in that area of the body.”
Tidewater Foot and Ankle Associates is currently accepting new patients. The practice is located in Westchase Commons at 13019 W. Linebaugh Avenue, Suite 101, Tampa, FL 33626. Hours of Operation are Monday through Wednesday 9 am – 5 pm, Thursday 9 am – 5pm, Friday 9 am – 3 pm, closed weekends. For more information on Dr. Johnson and Tidewater Foot and Ankle Associates, visit https://www.tidewaterfoot.com.