In 2011, I rolled my right ankle while leaving an office building in downtown Baltimore. At the time I thought it was just going to be a mild sprain and with a little rest it would recover on its own. The immediate pain did subside eventually. However, a dull ache persisted several weeks later. The ache was not enough to interfere with my day-to-day activities, yet I was always “aware” of it.
The injury was not improving so I went to see an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist at one of the major health system/hospital in the Baltimore/Washington area. The doctor ordered x-rays and confirmed that I had sprained the ankle and prescribed physical therapy. I completed the 6 weeks of physical therapy. While the PT provided some temporay relief, over time the aching returned and continued to worsen.
For the next 8 years this story would repeat itself. The dull ache in the ankle would grow and I would go see an orthopedic specialist. Over that period, I went to several of the prominent orthopedic foot and ankle specialists at several hospital systems in the Baltimore area. They would x-Ray my ankle, again confirm that it was a bad sprain and recommend more PT. Each time I would request an MRI, but they would tell me an MRI was unnecessary. They would prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and another round of PT. This went on for years and years all while the dull ache continued to grow. I also noticed the ache would increase and taking longer to recover each time I increased my activity.
In 2019, I spoke with my primary physician and explained my saga with the ankle and my frustration with these specialists who refused to order an MRI. She ordered the MRI and referred me to Dr. Jordan Stewart at Timonium Foot and Ankle Center. My doctor told me that she had several patients that had similar frustrations with the major health systems and these patients had great results with Dr. Stewart. She indicated he is a great listener and has a great bedside manner.
I got my MRI and met with Dr. Stewart. He confirmed what I had known in my mind which was the sprain was significantly worse than the other specialists thought. I had inflammation and fluid buildup in the ankle, bone swelling, and ligaments that had been stretched due to walking differently on the ankle for years because of compensation for the injury.
Dr. Stewart was extremely comprehensive in his examination and discussed all options available. We started conservatively with a series of braces and a set of custom orthotics to try to correct my walking and decrease the inflammation with the hope that we could prolong the need for surgery. Our collective hope was that if we correct and strengthen the ankle, the inflammation would decrease, and I could resume normal activities with less or no pain. I used the braces for several months. I wore a brace during the day to support the ankle sprain. At night I wore a splint that was designed to stretch my tight calf. I had some relief with the conservative care, yet after a trip to Florida where I spent time walking on the beach the inflammation flared up dramatically due to walking on the uneven, unsupported sand on the beach.
After discussing the increasing ankle pain, we made a collective decision that reconstructive ankle surgery was necessary, and the surgery was scheduled for March 2020. We were all set to go, and Covid-19 hit and as a result the procedure was delayed until June 2020. Dr. Stewart knew how much pain I was in with the ankle and he got me slotted in during a small window in June when elective procedures could be done, and he performed the surgery. I spent the next several months recovering. Dr. Stewart confirmed post-surgery that it was good that we proceeded down this path as the damage in the ankle was extensive. Several ligaments were so damaged and some of the tissue was so inflamed that it needed to be cut out. He drained 8 ml of fluid from the subtalar and ankle joints and repaired my ankle ligaments with 4 bone anchors. The surgery was a complete success and now it was my turn to do my part with physical therapy.
To date I have completed several months of physical therapy. Throughout the entire recovery process, I would go in for periodic check-in appointments with Dr. Stewart to ensure I was healing properly and to provide post care on the ankle. I have since recovered, the ache in my ankle is gone and I am almost back to 100%. There is some residual tendinitis that I am working through and is common and expected as a result of the procedure, but it is getting better every day and I am on pace to be 100% recovered within the one-year recovery period. I am so relieved to not have the ache in my life anymore and without Dr. Stewart I am not sure I would have reached this point in my life.
If you are considering Dr. Stewart, I would encourage you to listen to my story and realize why he is the right choice regardless of your ailment. I spent thousands of dollars and years of my life seeing very prominent orthopedic foot and ankle groups in the area to only get the same run around of X-Ray/PT and “come back and see us in a few months.” I felt like they were always too busy and that my injury was not serious and could not seem to appreciate the pain and discomfort I dealt with every day. That was the exact opposite of my experience with Dr. Stewart. You can tell he genuinely cares about his patients and wants to find solutions. He values your times as much as his own. When you have appointments, he sees you at your scheduled time. He is a very talented Doctor and Surgeon, and I am sure you will have the same experience I had with seeing him. My only regret in this whole saga was not finding Dr. Stewart sooner as I could have saved myself years of pain and been back to a normal years ago.
* Results may vary from person to person