This year marks the 25th anniversary for Wilton podiatrist Dr. Michael Connor. Reflecting on his milestone achievement, Dr. Connor says he feels both gratitude and professional fulfillment.

“I love being a small town podiatrist. The sense of community here is very rewarding,”  Connor says. “I look forward to many more years of practice.”

A graduate of the New York College of Podiatric Medicine, Connor finds great satisfaction in helping people who are having trouble with their feet. “Feet problems become life problems,” he says. “We need our feet in order to stay active. That’s my goal:  to keep my patients active.”

Connor first began treating patients in the Wilton-Norwalk area in 1991, in an office located on Danbury Rd. across from John’s Best Pizza. By 2004, his practice had grown significantly, and it was time for more room. That’s when he relocated to his current address at 27 Danbury Rd.–the red brick building owned by Kaoud Brothers Oriental Rugs–where he remains in practice today.

The larger, 2,000 sq. ft. space has meant more comfort and convenience for his patients. In addition to three treatment rooms, a waiting room, and a receptionist area, the office is also equipped with an X-ray unit helpful for trauma cases and those who prefer to avoid the emergency room and urgent care centers.  “We always allow time in our schedule for emergency, same-day appointments,” he says.

From Heel to Toe, and More

Quite often, Connor explains, podiatry is misunderstood. When it comes to feet, podiatrists address and treat everything from orthopedic to dermatological to vascular issues.

“The range of care extends far beyond the treatment of bunions, warts and foot fungus. We do everything a medical doctor does, from X-rays to surgery to prescribing medication.”

If there is one thing Connor appreciates about being a community-based podiatrist, it’s the variety of cases he sees. His youngest patient is 3 months old, and his oldest is 104 years old. He treats high performance athletes for sports injuries such as stress fractures, heel pain and plantar fasciitis, but he also treats the same issues in weekend warriors and people completely new to exercising.  Connor sees patients for routine care as well as in times of crisis. He treats ingrown toenails, warts and athlete’s foot with the same dedication and seriousness as broken bones and diabetic foot infections.

“I love treating patients everyday,” Connor says, adding, “I feel like it’s my first day always when I come to the office.”

What he hopes people understand, however, is that when it comes to foot problems, early intervention can prevent a world of suffering down the road.

“Unfortunately, many people come to me only after they are experiencing severe discomfort,” Connor says. “Of course, I can still help them, but I would much rather see people at the first sign of trouble, before the pain escalates.”  Some early signs of foot problems include:  pain and swelling not caused by an injury, increased redness and/or warmth of the foot.

Connor dedicates much of his practice to helping patients with diabetic foot care, a growing area of focus within podiatric medicine. According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with this disease each year.   Diabetics often experience a loss of sensation in their feet from neuropathy, a condition that can lead to severe problems. If patients with this disease are treated on a regular basis, complications can be greatly reduced.

It’s Always Been About the Feet

Connor’s appreciation for healthy feet developed early, thanks to how he used his own. As a young boy growing up on Long Island, he–like most of his eight brothers and sisters–played soccer competitively.

“Soccer is all about footwork,” he says. “Soccer players think about their feet a lot–just like runners and dancers and most athletes.”

During summers through high school and college, he also used his feet to earn money. “We used to tread water while using our feet to feel for the clams in the mud.  Then we’d go down and pick them up–about 1,000 times each day! It was great.”

It wasn’t until college, though, that Connor began considering a career as a podiatrist, thanks to an accidental foot spike by one of his teammates. The injury landed him in the office of a beloved community podiatrist who ultimately made a very favorable impression.  “All of this podiatrist’s patients felt very well-cared-for. It was just so obvious,” he recalls. “I thought that was really great, how he made such a positive difference for his patients.”

Connor went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the University of Buffalo, and after a stint as a licensed physical therapist at a local hospital, he enrolled at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine, where he received a Doctorate of Podiatric Medicine. He then went on to complete a one-year residency in podiatric orthopedics at the New York College of Podiatric Medicine and Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn.

Connor still thinks about that podiatrist who years ago influenced his future.  “I feel fortunate to have followed in his footsteps,” he says with a smile.

In the 25 years since then, he has served as president, vice president, treasurer and secretary of the Fairfield County Podiatric Medical Association. He is Board Certified in foot surgery and is on staff at Norwalk Hospital where he performs surgery.