Seeing a foot and ankle expert is a step in the right direction.
- Ankle fusion to lock the ankle joint with screws and relieve pain
- Ankle replacement—replacing the worn out joint with a prosthetic joint
- Fracture care ranging from special shoes to surgery for more severe fractures
- Infected ankle replacement
- Tendon reconstruction using tendon tissue grafts for severe tears or suturing for less severe tears
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome care ranging from steroid injections and arch supports (orthotics) to ligament surgery, allowing room for the nerve to expand
- Wound care
Patient safety is our priority
MedStar Orthopedic Institute is committed to providing the care you need in an appropriate and safe setting. That’s why we’re offering both video and in-person visits.
In some cases, an in-person visit may be best. We continue to focus on providing a safe, clean, and secure environment for you to receive your care. Learn more about our safety practices here.
Our foot and ankle specialists have the in-depth training and experience to diagnose and treat the most difficult foot or ankle conditions.
The more painful and persistent your foot or ankle issues are, the more you need to see our experts—especially if other treatments have failed.
A sprain tears the outer supportive ligaments of the ankle and can range from minor to so severe that the ligaments are torn completely, resulting in the ankle feeling loose.If you’ve broken your foot or ankle, treatment depends on the nature of your injury, but may include:
- Splints and casts to keep your bones in the right position as they heal.
- Surgery that restores the proper alignment of the bones by using titanium screws, nails or plates to ensure the bones heal together in proper alignment. A tibial bone graft may be taken from your knee area to be used in conjunction with the screws, nails or plates. Patients generally stay in the hospital for one or two days following this type of surgery.
Foot and Ankle ArthritisTreatment for ankle arthritis depends on the type of arthritis you have and its severity. Nonsurgical treatment options may include:
If nonsurgical treatment does not improve your condition, you may need surgery that includes:
- Medication to ease pain and swelling symptoms
- Supportive shoe materials such as orthotics, arch supports or specially designed shoes
- Canes or braces
- Physical therapy
- Ankle arthroscopy: In this procedure, surgeons insert an arthroscope—a thin, flexible tube—into your joints. The arthroscope uses a small camera to beam images of your joints onto a screen so your surgeons can insert specialized instruments through the arthroscope into your joints to repair any damage.
- Ankle fusion surgery: This procedure fuses two of the ankle bones to remove a problematic joint and minimize pain.
- Ankle replacement surgery or arthroplasty: This procedure replaces the damaged joint with a prosthetic or artificial one. MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is the only major hospital in the region equipped to perform total ankle joint replacement.
Ankle InstabilityTreatment for ankle instability usually depends on the severity of your ankle weakness. Nonsurgical treatment options may include:
In some cases, nonsurgical treatment does not provide enough relief from ankle instability. If surgery is needed, our team is experienced in the most advanced and innovative surgical procedures. In fact, we specialize in the correction of failed surgery performed at other institutions.
- Medication to ease pain and swelling symptoms
- Ankle brace to prevent the ankle from giving way and to protect the ankle from further sprains
- Physical therapy and exercises that help support increased ankle strength and ease of movement.
BunionsA bunion (hallux valgus) is an inflamed, bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe where it joins with the foot. Bunions result from the big toe pushing against the neighboring toe, forcing the joint of the big toe to swell and bulge out.This common deformity can be caused by wearing shoes that are excessively tight or can develop as a result of a genetic structural defect or a medical condition, such as arthritis.Bunions tend to slowly worsen over time, and, if they become too severe, can hamper the ability to walk, increasing the risk of developing arthritis and/or bursitis.We specialize in treating bunions and many other conditions, including ankle instability and flat feet.
Women's Foot HealthWomen tend to suffer from foot pain more often than men.
Problems often start as a result of the shoes women wear. Wearing high heels and shoes that are too small or too narrow can contribute to a variety of problems, including pelvic issues that affect knees and ankles and knee and ankle sprains. We specialize in treating these injuries and many other conditions, including bunions, ankle instability and flat feet.
Flat FeetTreatment for flat feet depends on the symptoms you have, as well as the underlying cause of your flat feet. If you have no symptoms, you do not need any treatment. If you are experiencing pain, we may recommend:
If you still experience severe pain after making these changes, we may recommend surgery. Surgery options include:
- Wearing shoes fit with orthotics or arch supports
- Taking medication, including over-the-counter pain relievers and/or cortisone shots
- Wearing a walking cast or brace
- Physical therapy
- Fusing the bones together or removing a bone
- Realigning the bones to a healthy position
- Lengthening or replacing a tendon
Nerve disordersNerve disorders that can affect the feet and ankles include:
The multidisciplinary care required for conditions such as these includes:
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, an inherited disorder that causes severe weakness in the muscles that control your legs and feet. As a result, you can suffer serious foot deformities.
- Polio, a virus that affects the nerves and can cause semi-paralysis or even complete paralysis in the legs.
Our compassionate staff will help manage all of these services for you and collaborate on your care with any other specialist you need.
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Orthopedic surgery
Mortons Neuroma and other conditionsOther foot and ankle conditions include:
Your treatment options include:
- Hammer and claw toes are toes that do not have the right shape.
- Neuromas are swollen nerves that commonly affect the ball of the foot causing pain, burning, numbness and tingling.
- Bone spurs develop when the smooth cartilage wears down and the ends of the bone rub together.
If you’ve had surgery for any of these conditions elsewhere but are not satisfied with the results, we encourage you to meet our team. We perform many revision foot and ankle surgeries and can help improve your function and reduce your pain, no matter where you were treated previously.
- Wearing shoes that fit well and comfortably accommodate your pain
- Avoiding high-heeled shoes
- Inserting extra cushioning into your shoes
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers and/or getting cortisone shots
- Physical therapy
- Surgery, including bunionectomy
Then David discovered Dr. Paul Cooper, director of the Foot and Ankle Center at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, part of the MedStar Orthopaedic Institute.
Unlike other physicians who recommended ankle fusion surgery that limits mobility, Dr. Cooper recommended revolutionary ankle replacement surgery using the STARTM device that moves like a natural ankle.
Just two weeks after Dr. Cooper performed the surgery, David was walking. Three months later, he was back on skis!
Nicholas Casscells, MDNicholas Casscells, MD is fellowship trained in orthopaedic foot and ankle surgery. He has a special interest in sports related injuries, deformities, and arthritic conditions of the foot and ankle. He is a member of the MedStar Orthopaedic institute and joins us from MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Dr. Casscells will see patients in the Orthopaedic and Sports Center at MedStar Health at Lafayette Centre, as well as perform surgery onsite at the MedStar Surgery Center. Dr. Casscells is a third generation orthopaedic surgeon. He enjoys watersports, skiing, and spending time with his family.
Paul Cooper, MD
Dr. Paul S. Cooper is a board-certified orthopedist specializing in the treatment of all conditions of the foot and ankle. Specifically, Dr. Cooper's focus has been in the development of new technology and procedures for the reconstruction of ankle disorders, diabetic complications and failed foot surgeries. He has served as the director of the Foot and Ankle Center for the past 12 years. Dr. Cooper fulfills his academic role as an associate professor of Orthopedic Surgery. Other activities include serving as a board member on various committees of the American Association of Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons. Having authored several book chapters and over 50 articles, Dr. Cooper remains actively involved on a national and international level giving lectures and seminars to other surgeons.
Dr. Cooper was Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude from Dickenson College. He graduated from Jefferson Medical College and completed his orthopedic training at Union Memorial Hospital. Following his orthopedic residency training, he completed his Sport Medicine Fellowship at Hershey Medical Center and his Foot and Ankle Fellowship at the University of Cincinnati. Recently, he served as the team physician to numerous professional athletic teams and as a foot and ankle consultant to the University of Connecticut's Athletic Department.
Kathryn Marie O'Connor, MDDr. Kathryn M. O’Connor is a board certified, fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot and ankle surgery. Her areas of special interest and expertise include:
Dr. O’Connor believes in a collaborative approach to developing tailored treatment plans for each patient. She focuses on a holistic approach and offers her patients the complete spectrum of treatments, including non-surgical treatments as well as surgical options, to treat disorders of the foot and ankle.
She has published in several peer-reviewed journals, written book chapters, and presented at conferences in the U.S. and Canada. In addition, she was an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Pennsylvania for 5 years, prior to joining MedStar Health.
Outside of work, Dr. O’Connor is an avid runner and cyclist and enjoys spending time with her family.