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A newsletter from Ankle & Foot Care Centers.

First Quarter 2017 Edition:

Therapy, Alternative Care, Surgery End Mom's Struggle with Plantar Fasciitis

For over a year, Erin Archer struggled with the debilitating pain of plantar fasciitis in both of her feet. The condition rendered her unable to live an active life as exercise, family vacations, and even playing with her son were becoming difficult and painful.

"I would wake up each morning with pain. I would manage to have a few good hours throughout the day but by the afternoon the pain would return, slowing me down to crawling at times in the evening," Erin, 40, recalls.

She credits Dr. Frank Luckino of Ankle & Foot Care Centers with taking her through the process which eliminated her chronic pain.

Erin's struggle with plantar fasciitis began in the spring of 2015 with pain gradually developing in her left foot. Having dealt with the condition just after her 2008 pregnancy, she recognized the symptoms and thought she would be able to utilize over-the-counter heel supports and begin stretching, just as she had done previously under her primary doctor's supervision, to alleviate the pain in a few short weeks.

By June of 2015, it had become apparent that the plantar fasciitis was not getting better, but instead the left foot was actually getting worse and her right foot was being affected as well. At this point her whole body would be exhausted and Erin, who had always been self-reliant and responsible for family errands, had to depend on her husband for routine grocery shopping, cooking supper, and other tasks that were now too painful for her to accomplish on her own.

The Columbus, Ohio native, who had moved to East Liverpool just six months earlier, took to the internet to find a solution and hoped to find a local physician who could help. That search led her to Ankle & Foot Care Centers and Dr. Frank Luckino.

Dr. Luckino took the time to listen to Erin as she explained her symptoms. He was able to diagnose her condition promptly and provide her with options. Together, they decided to start with the least invasive approach with the agreement they would adjust or escalate her treatment plan as needed. Erin chose to have custom supports made and began physical therapy, iontophoresis & therapeutic massage. Corticosteroid injections were also added to the treatment plan to help her manage walking pain.

In Spring of 2016, it became apparent that additional intervention would be necessary. Swiss dolorclast, a technique which involves the application of high-energy acoustic waves to the affected area, was used by Dr. Luckino to break up scar tissue and facilitate healing in Erin's feet.

Though the swiss dolorclast did relieve some of Erin's pain, it did not resolve it entirely. While on a summer beach vacation, the heel pain would return every afternoon and continue into the evening hours. She was unable to keep up with her family and had to rest. Erin returned home from this vacation determined to move forward with plantar fascia ligament release surgery. The surgery was completed on her right foot in July of 2016 and the pain relief was immediate. She was so excited with her results and her healing process she scheduled to have the same procedure completed on her left foot only two months after completing the first surgery.

"The pain is no longer constant," she said. "My feet and leg muscles can now relax and no longer feel tight." After Erin's first surgery, radiating calf pain she once felt in her legs from walking incorrectly for so long to avoid heel pain was gone. Within three weeks post surgery, she was back into her regular tennis shoes. Erin's condition has only continued to improve by gradually becoming more active and completing physical therapy and stretching.

Less than six months after the first surgery, Erin is excited to be able to resume exercising and be able to play a friendly game of basketball with her son, something that was impossible only a few short months earlier.

Perhaps most notably, Erin and her family were able to take a special vacation together recently and the mom who once saw a trip to the grocery store as "a crippling experience" is now overjoyed with how well her feet have recovered. "We just returned from Disney World and I was able to enjoy and walk each of the parks with my family. I am so thankful to have my feet back and grateful for Dr. Luckino and his staff at Ankle & Foot Care Center. He guided me through the process by honestly answering all my questions, which lead me to comfortably making the right decisions for my treatment."

Copyright © March 2017 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Dr. DiDomenico Named Honored Cancer Survivor

Dr. Lawrence DiDomenico has been named Honored Cancer Survivor for the 11th annual Cattle Baron's Ball fundraising event, set for Saturday, April 1 at the Lake Club. Dr. DiDomenico is a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon and managing partner at Ankle & Foot Care Centers. This ball will feature live and silent auctions, live bands, dancing and a gourmet dinner. The theme is Denim & Diamonds. Click here for more information about the event.

Copyright © March 2017 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Dr. Anania Still Supports Penguins, Now as YSU Team Podiatrist

In the early 1990s, when the Youngstown State University football team was a perennial title contender, Michelle Anania was a YSU student and a dedicated Penguin fan, often spending hours on Saturdays at Stambaugh Stadium and the nearby tailgating lots.

Today, Dr. Michelle Anania continues to support her alma mater as the team podiatrist for YSU athletics. For 10 years, she has treated sprained ankles, broken bones, ingrown nails, shin splints, heel pain and other conditions for male and female athletes from all of the university’s sports teams.

“You name it, we’ve taken care of it,” Dr. Anania said. “We have basketball players with ankle sprains quite often and a lot of track runners with shin splints.”

Dr. Anania earned her bachelor of science degree in Biology from YSU in 1994 and graduated from the Ohio College of Podiatric Medicine in Cleveland in 1998. After residencies at the Cleveland Clinic and DePaul Health Center in St. Louis, she joined Ankle & Foot Care Centers in 2001. She sees patients in the practice’s Austintown, Struthers and Champion offices.

She is among a range of medical specialists that Dr. James Shina, YSU team physician, turns to after seeing injured players initially. Dr. Shina was the one that got her interested in working with YSU athletes a decade ago.

“I had treated a lot of high school athletes and other athletes and often worked closely with Dr. Shina,” Dr. Anania recalled. “He liked my work and how I treated patients and wound up bringing me on at YSU.”

Dr. Anania is also at the forefront of Ankle & Foot’s outreach to local patients with diabetes. She leads the annual Ankle & Foot Care Centers Diabetes Golf Benefit, which has raised over $150,000 for diabetes care and resources since 1999. She also sits on the board of the Diabetes Partnership of the Mahoning Valley.

The two things patients appreciate most about Ankle & Foot are the expertise and convenience for which the practice is known.

“We have very good doctors and we’re providing care now at 20 locations,” Dr. Anania said. “This makes it easier for patients to access excellent care, no matter where they live in the region.”

Copyright © March 2017 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Ankle Replacement Takes Patient from Wheelchair to Walking  

After one year and three unsuccessful surgeries, Wanda McDowell found herself unable to walk and seeking a solution to allow her to leave her wheelchair behind.

The Struthers woman, who's never been one to slow down, credits Dr. Lawrence DiDomenico of Ankle & Foot Care Centers with getting her back on her feet and moving at the fast pace she prefers.

"I've had no problems with it at all. Nothing," said Wanda, 85. "It was very successful."

Wanda's ordeal began in 2007 when she fell while running down a flight of steps. After slipping and flying off the staircase she landed on her left foot, snapping her ankle in the process. "It nearly broke off of my leg," Wanda said.

With such a severe break, healing proved to be complicated. "They tried to set it at the hospital, but it wouldn't heal," she said. She then had screws inserted in an effort to secure her ankle joint as it healed, but this procedure was unsuccessful as well.

She found herself completely unable to walk and frustrated with the lack of progress. That's when a local doctor referred Wanda to Dr. DiDomenico so he could "work his magic."

It was Dr. DiDomenico who suggested Wanda have ankle replacement surgery and in 2008, at the age of 77, she moved forward with the procedure.

During total ankle replacement surgery, a surgeon places metal and plastic components to recreate the ankle joint. The replacement surgery can dramatically improve mobility and reduce pain for those confirmed as candidates for it.

After receiving her artificial ankle, Wanda spent three months in residential rehabilitation, undergoing physical therapy that would allow her to reach her goal of walking again. Within six months of the surgery Wanda was once again on her feet, walking well, a far cry from the wheelchair she had been confined to just months before.

When Wanda looks back on her experience, she doesn't recall experiencing pain. Instead she remembers how well she healed and how successful the surgery was. Wanda cites Dr. DiDomenico as responsible for enabling her to live an active life. "I wouldn't be walking if it wasn't for him," she explained.

Copyright © March 2017 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Longtime Operations Manager Retires

Betty Emch will miss her "other family" of Ankle & Foot Care Centers' doctors and staff as she retires after nearly 20 years as the company's operations manager. Kelly Anders, with more than 10 years experience in human resources, is taking her place.

Betty (at right in the picture with Kelly), who was responsible for all of Ankle & Foot's accounting and HR processes, decided it was time to call it quits after some health problems and a bad fall last summer prompted her children to urge her to retire.

It was still a tough decision because of her fondness for her Ankle & Foot family.

"It's like I am their mother," she said of the staff, noting she would have never survived the death of her husband, Kenneth, in 2013 without her fellow employees. "They really carried me through, and I am going to miss them a lot."

In addition, there are her personal ties to Ankle & Foot with her son, Dr. Kenneth Emch, who co-founded the company. "It's been an honor working here, and I feel a personal drive for Ankle & Foot to succeed. I mean not only do I love Ankle & Foot, but it's my son's business."

Betty, who has five children and six grandchildren, is planning to start her retirement with a month-long vacation to California, where one of her sons lives, and work on getting healthier.

"Betty has made immeasurable contributions to the practice over her years of service," said Mike Vallas, practice administrator for Ankle & Foot. "She welcomed me on my first day here, and her love and loyalty never stopped. She has made a lasting impact on us all."

Her successor comes to Ankle & Foot after serving as human resources director for long-term care facilities at Continuing Health Solutions.

Kelly knows she has big shoes to fill.

"I am excited to learn from Betty. She is definitely a wealth of knowledge, and she's absolutely irreplaceable with her years of experience and what she has to offer on a personal basis," Kelly said.

A Cortland-area resident, Kelly has been married 21 years and has two children, a 19-year-old son who is an honor student at Youngstown State University and a 15-year-old daughter who is a high school sophomore.

Copyright © March 2017 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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Dr. DiDomenico, Team Capture Event's Top Poster Award

A medical poster developed by Dr. Lawrence DiDomenico of Ankle & Foot Care Centers and his research colleagues won first place at a recent scientific conference sponsored by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. The poster, titled "Total Ankle Arthroplasty in the Patient with a Pathologic Fibula," was ruled best among 17 entries. Dr. DiDomenico also delivered three presentations at the conference in Las Vegas, Nev. The poster can be viewed here.

Copyright © March 2017 Ankle & Foot Care Centers

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From the Kitchen: Cinnamon Maple Grilled Peaches

From The Kitchen

(From the Kitchen recipes are provided by the Diabetes Partnership of the Mahoning Valley.)

Who said desserts can't be grilled? Try dressing up this simple dish by garnishing it with some fresh mint leaves.

This recipe serves: 4 people
Diabetic friendly? Yes


4 peaches or nectarines, still firm but ripe
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon maple syrup
From The Kitchen

Preheat grill to medium high. Cook for 3-4 minutes, turning once, until golden brown on the outside, and just warmed through inside.

For more information, including nutritional information, see this link.

From Sizzle & Smoke by Chef Steve Petusevsky, via

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