Dr. Justin Colanese

Learn how Dr. Justin Colanese became interested in medicine, and find out about some of the most recent foot and ankle advancements.


How did you become interested in medicine?

I sustained a knee injury playing football junior year of high school. I ended up going to Indianapolis, Indiana, to an orthopedic surgeon. He was really just professional, and I admired and respected him. He didn't end up needing to do surgery on me, but his bedside manner, the way he did the physical exam and explained things really put me at ease and got me back playing. I ended up missing most of that season, but I did make it back for the last couple games. That was the first time a profession really kind of opened my eyes, so I decided I wanted to pursue it.

What is your educational background? 

I went to undergraduate at Earlham College in Indiana, and then did my medical school at Indiana University. I ended up matching out in Kansas City for my orthopedic residency for five years. This past year, I was at Washington University St. Louis for a foot and ankle fellowship.

What are some of the common foot problems that you see?

There are lots of different problems in the foot. A real common one is hallux rigidus arthritis in the big toe. Even younger patients sometimes can get arthritis of that particular joint. Patients with diabetes can have all kinds of problems with ulcers. Foot deformities, tendonitis, and bunions, which is the big toe drifting over, are really common. 

How is technology improving for foot and ankle conditions?

Total ankle replacements are something that's gotten better over recent years. The designs of the ankle replacements are starting to catch up to where the hip and knee are as far as being able to function and be more reliable than they were like 30 years ago. There's all kinds of new designs. One of the nice things about foot and ankle surgery is there's a lot of kind of unexplored and unknown things. In fellowship, I learned there's a lot more questions than there are answers as far as foot and ankle surgery goes, so a lot of new developments are coming up. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part is seeing a patient when they first come to you, and they're aggravated and frustrated. They're not doing the things that they want to do. They hurt and being able to do something for them, even if it is something simple and non-operative all the way up to an eight-hour surgery sometimes, and just see them all through the course of treatment—they come back to your office, and they're doing great, and I'm really happy.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to spend time with my family and my wife. I have a two-year-old son. We go out playing a lot, go to the park, go to the zoo. We're members of a church and spend a lot of time there as well. 

To learn more or schedule an appointment with Dr. Colanese, please see his complete profile.