Keeping Patients on Their Toes
by Holly A. Wuebker
Thanks to fitness and activity trackers like Fitbit, many people can track the number of steps they take on any given day. But, some might not consider the importance of proper foot care—even though most of us spend a lot of time on our feet!
Like many other aspects of wellness, quite often, we barely give any thought to this part of the body until an injury occurs or an injury or disease appears. Then, the need to care for our ankles and feet becomes obvious. Foot health is essential to basic human functions every day.
Here’s where Dr. Darby Wehrley comes in—he’s a podiatrist who specializes in foot and ankle care and treatment. His offices at Agility Foot and Ankle Specialty Center aim “to provide patients with the highest quality of foot and ankle care.”
Agility Foot and Ankle Specialty Center offers easily-accessible locations in both Celina, Ohio and Portland, Indiana, where Dr. Wehrley and his staff provide professional care. Dr. Wehrley has hospital privileges at Mercer County Community Hospital in Coldwater, Ohio and Jay County Hospital in Portland, Indiana.
The doctor treats a wide variety of conditions, including: ankle sprains and fractures, pain, high arched feet, ingrown toenails, infections, tendonitis and tears, pain, lumps and bumps, arthritic conditions, nerve conditions and neuromas, athletes foot, orthotics, bunions, calluses and corns, abnormalities, chronic pain, club feet, sports injuries, diabetic foot care, sesamoiditis, flatfeet, fractures, tarsal tunnel syndrome, deformities, fungus, warts, gout, joint pain, hammertoes, and more.
“The human foot is quite a masterpiece,” says Dr. Wehrley. “Multifaceted in function, the foot is comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 tendons, muscles and ligaments packaged in a relatively small size, together with blood vessels and nerve networks. Both feet contain approximately one-quarter of all the bones in the body.”
He adds, “Foot conditions are among the most common of our health problems. Studies show 75-percent of Americans will experience foot problems at some point in their lives. A smaller percentage will seek care, as most feel discomfort and pain are normal.
“A statistic I have yet to see is one that shows the percentage of people who self-diagnose and self-treat. The scenario exists, and this can be a little scary.”
Fortunately, Dr. Wehrley’s office welcomes all conditions of the foot and ankle. The most common complaints he addresses include skin and nail issues, deformities, pain-focused or general, sports injuries, fractures, and diabetic or arthritic foot conditions.
As Dr. Wehrley points out, people typically don’t just “wake up and want to be a foot doctor.” There is much more to it than that. Podiatry is a science that involves many fields, and after job shadowing in a variety of medical paths, the doctor says it “just seemed to fit” his interests in math, science, and helping and educating others.
Now in his 10th year of practice, Dr. Wehrley has learned quite a bit along the way, especially in the areas of problem solving, research and education. He draws from a number of experiences to help find the right solution in each patient’s case, and that’s also where his innate interests in math and science are valuable assets. When seeing patients, Dr. Wehrley’s primary goal is “to help people, first and foremost.”
Dr. Wehrley grew up in Tipp City, Ohio. He met his wife Monica, who was originally from St. Henry, in Dayton, Ohio at Wright State University. The doctor-in-training knew she was “the one” when he realized she was going to be there for him during his many years of schooling and residency.
After Dr. Wehrley had completed his training, he recalls, “My wife and I wished to raise our family in the Midwest, and we settled here.” Celina provided a small-town feel, while also being the hub of the county. Dr. Wehrley established his primary practice in New Bremen, Ohio in 2013, but relocated it to Celina in 2016.
The doctor says, “I am often asked, Why did you choose to focus just on the feet? My response is there is a whole person connected to them, so you have to evaluate the whole person.
“Mechanically, if the foot has an issue, the condition may lead to a problem higher up, such as a leg, hip or back issue. Research demonstrates an average day of walking can generate forces of equal to several hundred tons of pressure on both feet.
“Arthritis, including gout, often attacks the foot first. Other systemic issues, such as diabetes, circulatory disorders, anemia or dietary deficiencies, and kidney issues can first be detected in the podiatric exam.”
Good hygiene is the doctor’s first recommendation in caring for feet and ankles. “Daily cleansing and inspection is a good start,” he says. “Dry between toes after bathing. Cut your toenails properly—avoid cutting too close to the skin or drastically rounding the corners.
“Keep your feet clean and dry—and wear socks. Protect your feet in public areas.
“Diet and exercise can be beneficial. If you have a routine exercise program, or if you’re a weekend warrior, prepare for the activity, stretching pre- and post-exercise.
“Make good choices with shoe gear selection and use. Inspect your current shoe gear. Breathable shoes are generally best. Do not share shoes.”
But, perhaps Dr. Wehrley’s most valuable advice relates to pain. “Do your feet hurt?” he asks. “Pain is not normal. Seek medical care as soon as a question or concern arises.”
When he’s not in the office or at home with his wife and three children, Dr. Wehrley is often volunteering somewhere in the community. In the past, he has assisted underserved individuals through Children’s Medical Missions West, a non-profit organization that provides transportation to the United States and free medical care for children from third-world countries.
Dr. Wehrley has also served on the board of directors for a local hospice organization, as well as several hospital administration committees. And, in the fall, he says, “You can find me on the sidelines during Friday night football.”