Josh is Back in the Game

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Central DeWitt Saber Goes Toe-to-Toe with Painful Bunions and Scores a Win

The sound of crashing pads and the coach’s whistle are music to the ears of defensive end, Josh Lippens, who is back in the game after excruciating foot pain nearly sidelined his first two years of high school sports. The Saber varsity starter, whose work ethic and mental toughness allows him to perform daily farm chores, give 100 percent at football and track practice, as well as maintain a love for math and science, endured two seasons of painful feet rather than sit out a game.

“Right before the football season my freshman year, I was running when I started to feel this hard, intense pain on my right foot. It hurt as I walked, so I just got a bigger, wider shoe, thinking that would solve the problem,” Josh recalls.

“But over time, the pain just got worse and worse, and then my left foot began to hurt, too. I was trying on football cleats when I noticed I could barely fit my feet in them.” Josh played that season, describing how the pain would worsen with each passing quarter of the game. “I mainly played through the pain, but after the game, I had to sit down because it hurt too much to walk.”

Intense foot pain was affecting Josh’s time on the field.

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Dr. Beau Shay, ORA Orthopedics

That winter Josh and his parents sought the advice of ORA Orthopedics’ Podiatric Foot Surgeon, Dr. Beau Shay, who diagnosed Josh with what’s called, “Tailor’s bunions.” 

“Josh had Tailor’s bunions on both feet that were causing significant pain. These  ‘bunionettes’ are distinguishable from regular bunions as  a Tailor’s bunion is smaller and located on the outside of the little toe, while a larger, traditional bunion is located on the outside of the big toe. The name, ‘Tailor’s bunion,’ refers to a time when, many years ago, tailors would sit cross-legged on the floor while working, thus causing pressure on the outside of their feet.”

Dr. Shay says a Tailor’s bunion occurs when the bones in your small toe become misaligned. This shifting causes the joint to protrude where the toe meets the foot. Over time, the bunion can cause toes to turn inward toward other toes and affect the way you walk. Dr. Shay says he has previously treated Tailor’s bunions in patients Josh’s age and attributes the majority of cases to heredity.

“He told me surgery was the best way forward,” adds Josh. “I wasn’t worried. He was honest with me and I trusted him.” In the winter of 2020, just before the COVID-19 epidemic cancelled many spring sports and in-person classes across the country, Dr. Shay performed a minimally invasive outpatient procedure called a “Tailor’s bunionectomy.”

Minimally invasive surgery got Josh back on his feet.

“We have made great strides in how we treat Tailor’s bunions, resulting in smaller incisions and quicker healing,” explains Dr. Shay. “The old school method involved taking out a large portion of the toe knuckle where it meets the foot. That approach could involve plates and screws, weaken the knuckles, and could possibly affect a person’s gait or sideline athletes.” Dr. Shay is the only foot surgeon in the Quad Cities’ region trained in performing minimally invasive foot surgery. 

“Today, I use a special instrument that makes a very targeted and tiny incision into the bone (sometimes only requiring one stitch). The incision is located in an area where the bone shifts over and heals quickly. After the surgery, Josh was placed immediately into two surgical boots, and he was walking the same day. Our goal is to get my patients into normal shoes two weeks after surgery, and Josh was no exception.”

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Josh Lippens, is back on the field after successful Tailor’s bunion surgery at ORA Orthopedics.

“The surgery went really well,” affirms Josh. “I remember going into Crow Valley Surgery Center and coming out with two fancy black boots. My recovery was great, and I was running in about sixweeks. When the boots came off, I felt like a normal human being. Dr. Shay knew what he was doing.”

“We were so grateful that Dr. Shay was able to do the procedure and give Josh plenty of time to recover before his sophomore football season,” adds Amy Lippens, Josh’s mother.

The surgery allowed Josh to play football in the 2020 COVID season. “My performance was so much better, and I had no pain at all. I was glad to get it done.

“I am really looking forward to a successful season my junior year and then throwing shotput in the spring. I’d like to play college football, so I’ll be upping my training to reach my goals. I’m also looking forward to returning to school. My favorite subjects are math and science, and I have talked to my parents about becoming a police officer after graduation.”

Thanks to successful bunion surgery, Josh is taking pain-free steps toward his goals every day with his signature strong sense of purpose and desire to get the job done.