2019 Top Doctor: Jason Lake

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Photography by Steve Craft
Photography by Steve Craft

Foot & Ankle Surgery

Med School/Year Graduated: University of Arizona, 2004

Years in Practice: 8

Foot and ankle surgery is a new category in Top Docs. Why is it important to distinguish the specialty from standard orthopedic surgery?

The foot and ankle are a complex part of the musculoskeletal system that requires focused knowledge and expertise. An orthopedic surgeon with a subspecialty in the foot and ankle will have the depth and breadth of experience to treat the full spectrum of foot and ankle conditions.

What is the most common ailment you treat? What is the most severe, with the longest recovery time?

I treat a lot of athletes, so ankle instability and tendon tears are most common – the Achilles, for example. Conditions with the longest recovery times include bad fractures or those with severe chronic deformities.

Have you or someone close to you ever had foot/ankle issues?

Almost everyone I know has had issues at one point or another. My dad bugged me for 14 months to fix his hammertoe… does that count? It took me that long to talk him out of surgery.

So you don’t recommend surgery for minor conditions like that?

We consider surgery on hammertoes if the pain is significant. You know, there’s risk with all procedures and the risk really has to outweigh the benefit to consider surgical intervention. Patients with bunions and hammertoes really have to convince me that we’re fixing it for pain and not for looks [laughs].

You’re a hometown boy – you were born in Phoenix, graduated valedictorian from Deer Valley High School in Glendale and went to medical school at the University of Arizona. What made you stay here to start your practice?

I was able to see what the Campbell Clinic had done for Memphis and Cleveland Clinic had done for Cleveland.  Being from here, I felt like the Valley deserved the same type of foot and ankle program. Or better.

What’s it like to work with the Arizona Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks? Any challenges in treating high-profile athletes?

The biggest challenge is that they want to be back to their pre-injury form ASAP and push the limits after surgery or injury. They are so competitive and want to be the fastest healers, too.

Your bio says you love outdoor activities. What are your favorite hikes in Arizona?

Can I give a few outdoor answers? Favorite family hike is Wind Cave at Usery [Mountain Regional Park].  My favorite mountain bike trail is Schultz Creek Trail in Flagstaff. And my favorite campground would be Lo Lo Mai up in Page Springs.

How has becoming a father changed the way you treat patients?

Well, it’s very important for me to watch my children grow and enjoy their development [into adulthood]. I have excellent partners at OrthoArizona who help with patients and [that] has allowed me to find the balance between patient care and spending time with my family.

“If I wasn’t a doctor, I’d be…”

I would be a color commentator for the NBA or NCAA Basketball for sure.

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