Stomping Out Foot Pain

Interviewed by Melissa Moniz
Wednesday - July 08, 2009
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Dr. Gregory Brett Morris

Interviewed By Melissa Moniz

Where did you receive your schooling and training?

I received my pre-medical education and bachelor’s degree in biology at Stanford University. I received my doctor of podiatric medical degree from the California College of Podiatric Medicine in San Francisco. I then completed my podiatric surgical residency in foot, reconstructive foot and ankle surgery at Kaiser Medical Center in Santa Clara, Calif.

How long have you been practicing?

I have been practicing here in Hawaii at Queen’s Medical Center and Kapiolani Medical Center at Pali Momi for the past eight years since relocating from California.

What have been the biggest or most exciting advancements in your field since you started?

All areas of surgery have greatly advanced over the past 10 to 20 years. In the area of foot and ankle surgery, there have been exciting changes over the past few years. The most common surgery I perform is for bunion and hammertoe deformities. I perform at least three or four bunion surgeries a week at Queen’s Medical Center. The surgery has become significantly less invasive with a very high success rate, and most patients are able to walk without crutches or a cast following surgery.

Another common surgery I perform is for chronic heel pain/plantar fasciitis. For most people who have heel pain/plantar fasciitis, the pain resolves with conservative treatment. Unfortunately, certain individuals, after six months of treatment, continue to have pain and require surgery. I perform the plan-tar fasciitis surgery endoscopicly, similar to an endoscopic carpal tunnel release, and have excellent results with minimal pain or complications. Many other surgeries I perform regularly have advanced significantly over the years, secondary to new surgical techniques and equipment, which allow for increased early range of motion and activity following surgery.

Dr. Morris conducts a routine foot exam

Do you see a lot of patients who have diabetes?

Unfortunately, diabetes is very common in Hawaii and throughout the United States. I would estimate that 20 percent of my patients have diabetes. I spend a lot of time educating and teaching my diabetic patients both in my office and also at diabetic foot screenings and volunteer work for the American Diabetes Association. I perform a significant amount of amputations and diabetic wound care for my patients. Diabetes affects the foot in multiple ways. Many patients develop diabetic peripheral neuropathy or numbness to their feet. Due to the numbness, they may develop cuts or sores to their feet and may not realize they have an injury or the extent of the injury or infection. Patients with diabetes are more prone to develop peripheral artery disease or other circulatory problems to their feet and legs. This decreased circulation makes patients more prone to non-healing wounds or infections. I work closely with the vascular surgeons at Queen’s and Pali Momi to help prevent ulcerations, amputations another complications associated with the diabetes and peripheral arterial disease.

Is amputation common?

Yes. Despite all of the material and education for our diabetic population, we still perform a significant number of amputations. With more education and early intervention for our diabetic patients and patients with poor circulation, we can continue to decrease the rate of amputation here in Hawaii.

Do you recommend specific brands of athletic shoes?

I create a running-shoe list and athletic-shoe list yearly for my patients. I do not usually recommend a specific brand of shoe, but typically give a patient a list of shoes that would best meet their foot condition. I do make custom functional foot orthotics for my runners and other athletes who develop certain foot conditions. Many times, though, my office has multiple types of over-the-counter arch supports, which can be very effective at treating many foot conditions more economically.

For something like athlete’s foot, where there is over-the-counter medication available, when should someone see a physician?

For many medical conditions, patients can try home remedies or over-the-counter treatments, especially something like athlete’s foot, which should resolve with good foot hygiene and over-the-counter medications. As recommended on most over-the-counter medications, if the problem has not resolved in one or two weeks following treatment, they should follow up with a physician. For something like athlete’s foot, there are prescription-strength anti-fungal medications both topically and orally that are sometimes prescribed.

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