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Be That Kind of Doctor

Dr. Amol Saxena chose to pursue a degree in podiatric medicine because he's a runner and he wanted to treat runners. He sees podiatry as a laser-focused skillset, a chance to relieve suffering, an opportunity to perform and to help others perform at peak level.

"Most of my patients don't need surgery but if they do, they get back to sports," Dr. Saxena said. "As an athlete myself, I understand how important it is to recover from injury and achieve your goals."

A 1988 graduate of Dr. William M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine at Rosalind Franklin University, Dr. Saxena has forged a practice in sports medicine and foot and ankle surgery that has reinvigorated and in some cases saved the careers of elite athletes.

Like many podiatry students, he became interested in the profession after treatment by a DPM, which he sought for sports injuries while in college. The son of immigrants from India, where the feet are considered unclean, he challenged cultural norms and cleared other hurdles to become one of the earliest podiatric physicians of Indian origin in the U.S.

"Podiatry is a profession that is specialized and focused, involves surgery and office-based treatments," he said. "You are often able to relieve a patient's pain right away. If you are willing to work, learn more, do research, volunteer and strive to be as good as you can be, there are no limits."

His patients compete in USA Track & Field events and the Olympic Games. Sixteen qualified for last summer's Rio Olympics, among them Matthew Centrowitz, who became the first U.S. athlete to win the 1,500-meter gold medal since 1908, and distance runner Galen Rupp, who took bronze in the marathon and came in a close second in the 2017 Boston Marathon, earning a new personal record. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Dr. Saxena has also treated players for the Golden State Warriors, San Francisco Giants, 49ers, and San Jose Earthquakes.

Dr. Saxena has competed in several Boston Marathons and Duathlon World Championships. He enjoys an international reputation based on his surgical expertise, empathy for athletes and understanding of the demands they place on their bodies.

"Podiatrists can make a profound impact on athletes at all levels and people from all walks of life," said Dr. Saxena, who has also earned recognition for innovation and research.

He pioneered procedures, including minimally invasive surgeries for ankle fractures and endoscopic lengthening of the Achilles tendon. He developed a widely-used CT-based classification system for navicular stress fractures, a common and potentially serious injury to the midfoot. He invented tools for his trade, including a bone grafting retractor and arthroscopic drill guide.

A national and international speaker, Dr. Saxena is also a prolific writer with more than 100 research publications and dozens of professional and lay articles to his credit. He is editor of "International Advances in Foot and Ankle Surgery," a compendium of knowledge and innovation shared by renowned podiatric, orthopedic and trauma surgeons.

"Our profession progresses when we document our treatment outcomes through research," he said. "That's how we build value for what we do."

A love of science and drive to excel undergird Dr. Saxena's accomplishments as a physician athlete.

"I don't like being average in anything," he said. "I'm not willing to be complacent. Maybe that's the athlete in me. Everyone's an athlete; some just don't know it yet."

Posted January 19, 2017
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