As an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle conditions, Sean Peden, MD, says he finds it gratifying to help patients heal and return to their normal activities—often without surgery.
“There are a lot of debilitating, complex conditions that can affect the foot and ankle,” Dr. Peden says. “If your foot hurts, you still have to walk on it. And if you can’t walk properly, there are many things you can’t do. I love to restore someone’s ability to go for a run or hike or even just wear a normal shoe.”
Dr. Peden says he never wants to tell patients they can’t return to the activities they love. “My goal is to maintain their level of function, or in some cases, even improve their function and quality of life,” he says. “I make sure they understand their diagnosis, their treatment plan, and other options if the treatment doesn’t work.”
Dr. Peden also enjoys the variety of medical conditions he treats. “I liken my job to a general orthopedic surgeon, but one who specializes in one body part,” he says. “I take care of kids and adults and treat everything from arthritis to complex trauma to overuse injuries such as tendonitis and stress fractures to bunion and hammer toe surgery.”
Plantar fasciitis, a painful condition that affects the band of tissue that connects the heel to the toe, is a common one Dr. Peden addresses. “There is a lot misinformation about it, so it’s nice to educate patients on the facts and science behind it,” he says. “The majority of patients with plantar fasciitis require modifications to their lifestyle and footwear. Often, they have tight muscles that need to be addressed with stretching.”
Dr. Peden is also skilled at treating fractures. “It is satisfying to take someone who has experienced significant trauma and fix his or her problem,” he says. “Most fractures heal fine. People have been breaking their bones for millions of years. And usually, if there is acceptable alignment and the surrounding joints aren’t affected, fractures can be treated nonsurgically.”