Foot and Ankle Q&A with Dr. Derr and Dr. Watson

Foot and Ankle Q&A with Dr. Derr and Dr. Watson

The Bone and Joint Institute of Tennessee’s foot and ankle specialists Ronald Derr, D.O. and Geoff Watson, M.D., recently sat down to answer questions from the community. Both Derr and Watson are board-certified orthopaedic surgeons.

Q: What is a misconception people have about what you do?

Derr: I think the biggest misconception is people assume if they have a foot and ankle issue they have to see a podiatrist and not an orthopaedic physician. Both Dr. Watson and I have fellowship training in foot and ankle surgery. Not only did we do our orthopaedic training and our generalized training, so we know everything from shoulders to feet, but we also have over a year of extra training where we just specialized in foot and ankle issues. Our goal is to get the word out that orthopaedic surgeons do take care of foot and ankle issues. We do forefoot surgery like bunions and hammertoes, as well as broken ankles or reconstructive surgery from issues like arthritis.

Q: What are the common issues you deal with?

Watson: Some of the common things we treat are foot issues like bunions and hammertoes. We do these often and feel they are a very productive way to get people back to doing activities they want to do. We also deal with many kinds of arthritis, from the big toe to the mid-foot to the ankle. We can handle arthritis treatment in a variety of ways. We generally start with conservative measures like injections or shoe wear modifications, and then move to surgery when necessary. We deal with a lot of injuries as well, from ankle sprains and Achilles tendon ruptures to fractures. Derr: We also take care of a lotof sports-related injuries, and each of us here at the Bone and Joint Institute is associated with one of the local high schools. Caring for athletes becomes part of our routine care, too. Whether it’s a weekend athlete who is just out enjoying activities or an industrial athlete, like a workers’ comp injury, or professional athletes who make the headlines, we care for all active individuals.

Q: What is your goal for patients?

Derr: Our goal in orthopaedics is to keep people active. Stretching, strengthening and maintaining your activity at a high level is really what we’re after. The biggest part of what we do is educate patients on how to get better from their injury or condition, and also try to prevent that injury from coming back. Ideally, our goal would be to prevent anything from becoming an issue in the first place. We know, with lack of mobility, that’s where people start to fail physically, so our goal is to prevent that from happening.

Q: When do I need to visit an orthopaedic specialist versus a general practice physician?

Watson: For acute injury, if you’re having trouble walking, you want to see an orthopaedic surgeon. It also depends on what’s going on and how long it’s been going on. If it’s a repetitive issue, it’s probably time to see one of us. If it’s something relatively new, specifically heel pain, like plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis, that’s generally something your primary care doctor can handle first, and then we can help with a backup plan afterward. We have an after-hours injury clinic as well that’s open Monday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. That’s a huge advantage, especially during football season.

Q: What are your tips for preventing foot and ankle injuries?

Derr: I’m a big believer in trying to educate people that pain in their feet can be caused by issues in other parts of the leg. Especially with heel pain, plantar fasciitis and forefoot pain, a tight calf muscle or a tight Achilles tendon can be the primary reason they’re dealing with pain in their feet. I also try and spend more time educating patients that we focus on treating the underlying cause as well as the area that hurts. If you spend time helping them understand the connection, they’re more likely to stick with a preventive program to try to get through that issue and prevent it from coming back.  

About Ronald Derr, D.O.

Ronald Derr, D.O., is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle surgery and sports medicine. He earned his medical degree from the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, and completed residency training in orthopaedics at Ohio University-Doctors Hospital in Massillon, Ohio. He went on to complete a sports fellowship training at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham and a foot and ankle fellowship at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati. Derr has been a valuable member of the Bone and Joint family since 1996 and currently serves as team physician for Ravenwood High School.

About Geoff Watson, M.D.

Geoffrey Watson, M.D., is a board-certified orthopaedic surgeon and a graduate of the University of Tennessee Health and Science Center. He completed a residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson and his fellowship training in foot and ankle at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, N.Y., the top orthopaedic hospital in the country. He has assisted in orthopaedic care for the Ole Miss Rebels, New York Knicks and New York Giants. Watson is a past team physician for the Fairview High School Yellow Jackets, and is the current team physician for the Franklin High School Rebels.