Q&A With Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon, Dr. Alexis Dixon

Board-eligible orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Alexis Dixon joined DISC Sports & Spine Center on September 12, 2016. Having recently completed a fellowship with Dr. James W. Brodsky at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, Dr. Dixon specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis of the foot and ankle, peroneal tendinitis and peroneal tendon tears, posterior tibial tendon dysfunction and flatfoot deformity, osteochondral lesions, achilles tendon tears and tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, hallux valgus/bunions, hallux rigidus/arthritis of the great toe, hammertoes/claw, toes/mallet toes, metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, charcot foot (neuropathic arthropathy) and diabetic foot, ankle sprains, and turf toe among other traumas of the foot and ankle, including sports injuries of the foot and ankle.

Before her first day at DISC, Dr. Dixon was kind enough to answer a few questions about her new role, what she wants her patients to know and what excites her most about DISC. 

What excites you most about joining DISC?

The thing I find the most exciting about DISC is the ability to work with patients who are active and want to stay that way. Coastal Angelenos are known for being heavily involved in outdoor activities, whether in organized sports, or in just getting out and being active in everyday life. I love having motivated patients who are on their feet for work and fun. In particular, I think DISC shares this passion with me, to rehabilitate patients in a multidisciplinary approach, using surgery, therapy, and holistic means to relieve people’s pain in the quickest way possible. There are no quick fixes, but I think people tend to do better by spending as little time in the hospital as possible, and getting back into their homes after a surgery with the support of a whole team.

What is one thing you would like your new patients to know about you?

One thing I would like for my patients to know about me is that we’re on the same team! I recognize that the patient, surgeon, therapist, and other physician need to all work together towards the common goal of getting patients back on their feet and living their best lives. I understand that problems in the feet can be life-altering and have a passion for helping people get back to the things that they love to do.

How will your practice resonate with the Marina Del Rey lifestyle?

Like many of the residents of Los Angeles, I’m physically active and enjoy running and watersports.  You can often find me running the strand or in the water.  I completely understand how an injury can interfere with life.  It also goes without saying, but Los Angeles is a very fashionable town.  I understand that shoe wear can be an issue for patients with foot pain, and want to be able to offer both surgical and nonsurgical options to help relieve pain.  I feel that a lot of patients don’t think their doctor will understand footwear requirements for people’s work and hobbies.

What is the difference between a podiatrist and an orthopedic foot & ankle surgeon?

The distinction of an Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle surgeon is that we are fully trained physicians, first and foremost. We’ve been through four years of medical school and have passed three steps of the medical boards, or USMLE. Following that, we complete five years of Orthopaedic Surgery residency, which includes all disciplines within the musculoskeletal system, including spine, sports, shoulder/elbow, hand, total joints, trauma, pediatrics, metabolic disorders and oncology, and foot and ankle. I spent over six months as a resident on Pediatric Orthopaedics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Hospital, and rotated through Texas Scottish Rite during fellowship for complex adolescent foot disorders. I also spent nearly a year and a half as a resident on the trauma service at the Los Angeles County Hospital (LAC+USC), which provides excellent training in complex and high-energy trauma, which is essentially the bread and butter of an Orthopaedic Surgeon. The understanding of the operative and non-operative management of trauma patients allows significant insight into the treatment of elective patients. Following Orthopaedic Surgery residency, Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle surgeons complete an additional year of training known as fellowship to become subspecialists in their field. My fellowship was with one of the leading experts in the field and is widely recognized as one of the most elite in the country. However, what really matters to each patient is the care that they receive.

The additional education and training that an Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle surgeon has provides the patient with an expert who better understands the entire body, and the intricate way that the feet play into the patient’s health as a whole. This may mean mechanically, by understanding the forces transmitted through the knees and hips when walking is altered by pain or deformity, or it may mean medically, by the ability to pick up on subtle nuances that may distinguish psoriatic arthritis from rheumatoid arthritis, for instance. Having rotated through radiology and vascular surgery rotations, we had extensive training in radiation safety. I have made many non-orthopaedic diagnoses in clinic and referred patients to be appropriately cared for by other specialists such as rheumatologists, dermatologists, neurologists, and even pulmonologists. This is what it means to be a physician; we are responsible for the material we learned in medical school, which is not taught in podiatry school. We are held accountable for this information by the medical boards, in addition to our Orthopaedic boards as specialists.