Looking for a foot/ortho specialist in Madison
April 25, 2014 8:42 AM   Subscribe

I've managed to injure both my ankles badly enough that I basically can't walk. Any suggestions for an orthopedic specialist in Madison, WI?

At some point in the distant past, I (independently) sprained both ankles badly enough that I became prone to having ankle sprains. Until a few months ago, this seemed like a worsening, but only mildly annoying, problem. I’d occasionally go to physical therapy for it, but I’d get discharged after a few weeks and that would be that. Continuing to do the recommended exercises didn’t seem to help.

Last November, I sprained my left ankle doing something completely innocuous, and my ankle has been prone to sprains during everyday physical activities since then (e.g., locking my door, or walking from my bedroom to my kitchen). Hobbling around in this state put enough stress on my right ankle that it’s now in approximately the same shape.

My physical therapist suggested getting an MRI. Before I moved to Madison, that would have been quite simple, since my insurance doesn’t require a referral for pretty much anything. But, I’m in the UW Health system, and they need a referral to do anything, even when insurance doesn’t require it. My doctor is out, so I got slotted to see her nurse practitioner. I’d just re-injured my ankle a couple days before, so it was pretty clear that I’d aggravate the injury and make it worse if I had to go anywhere, but it seems to be standard to not allow this kind of thing to be done by phone.

Naturally, I re-sprained my left ankle twice and my right ankle once getting to the appointment, which consisted of me retelling my case history and then getting a referral. The NP didn’t seem comfortable suggesting anything other than seeing someone else -- for example, when I asked if I could get crutches or a walker or something to help me get around, she looked incredibly uncomfortable for a while, waffled for a bit, and then suggested I go to my physical therapist for that. I don’t mean to rag on this person; she was sympathetic, but she couldn’t do anything to actually help me. The one thing I got out of it was a referral to an orthopedic specialist.

The people they tried to schedule me with are all booked out past June, so they scheduled me to see the PA of one of the ortho folks. For all I know, that will turn out to be useful, but I’d like to avoid a repeat of the other day, where I re-injure myself to see someone who can’t recommend any concrete action, who just tells me to see someone else.

The scheduler who handled this was hesitant to call around to see if anyone was available outside of the facility she was attached to, so I might have better luck calling other UW Health ortho folks in other locations. I’ll give that a shot, but my impression is that specialists attached to the UW and Meriter systems tend to be booked out pretty far.

Does anyone have suggestions for orthopedic specialists in Madison who I might actually be able to see in the next six weeks?

Since I'm asking this anonymous to avoid having my health history attached to my mefi account, maybe someone else out there has the same qualms. If so, feel free to email me at metafilterhealth@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Holly Duck is a former neighbor of ours who has worked with some hockey players I know. It says that she's not taking new patients, but who knows? She seems to have pretty good ratings.
posted by Madamina at 9:00 AM on April 25, 2014

Go see this guy. He is amazing.

It will take a long time to get into his office, he is very popular for a reason. Worth the wait. Once you are in and he takes you on, appointments will be much more reasonable.

Part of the reason for the long wait times is that they only see patients 2 days per week and are in surgery the rest of the time. It took 3 months to get in to see him, but once I did, the MRI was a week later and surgery was scheduled just a couple weeks after that.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:07 AM on April 25, 2014

Oh, and when you call ask to be put on the cancellation list. It will be a short notice (usually next day) but if someone cancels, you can take their spot.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:09 AM on April 25, 2014

My partner is currently rehabbing from a total knee replacement done two weeks ago by UW ortho Dr. John Wollaeger. He's good, really good.

If he's not your cup of tea I bet he can give you some solid leads.

Here's more info.
posted by mcbeth at 10:09 AM on April 25, 2014

You could ask for a referral to the UW Sports Medicine Clinic--I don't have specific people to suggest, but even for a super-amatuer runner like me they've been great in the past about thinking seriously about how to get my lower extremities fixed.

I'm hobbling to the terrace for a beer now. Good luck.
posted by Mngo at 2:52 PM on April 25, 2014

Seconding UW Health Sports Medicine, where I've swum for >20 years and also gotten great treatment. PTs can operate without a doctor's referral now; Lori Thein Brody gave me an ankle back with great rehab after surgery (don't see Dr Docter for surgery, he's Dean).

I notice something you said above:
I’d just re-injured my ankle a couple days before, so it was pretty clear that I’d aggravate the injury and make it worse if I had to go anywhere, but it seems to be standard to not allow this kind of thing to be done by phone.
When you're talking with the medical profession, never assume something is obvious. Always spell out your limitations, desires, implications (but never your preliminary Dr Google diagnoses).

Independence First Mobility Services refurbishes and recycles mobility equipment, from basic canes to walkers to power wheelchairs. (Tragically, no insurance will pay for used equipment.) IFMS is a great place to purchase crutches for much less than new-at-Walgreens.
posted by Jesse the K at 3:15 PM on April 25, 2014

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