Tell us a little bit about your background and what brought you to where you are today, professionally?
Sure. My name’s Mike Engel, I’ve been practicing here in the Kenosha area for almost 19 years now. I’ve enjoyed many sports, including running, volleyball and wrestling. I have two kids in the area. Committed to the Kenosha area and excited to provide the highest level of health care to our patients in the area we can. I’ve looked at my practice every year. We examine things that work and take the things that work, look at the things that don’t work, and try to improve every year. Get rid of the things that don’t work and add new things to our repertoire and how we treat our patients.
What is it about foot surgery specifically that you like?
Well, I think that when we look at the foot and ankle, it plays a critical role in everything we do. I feel that being able to have an athlete return to the field or return to running is one of the most rewarding things one can do. And without appropriately a foot or ankle functioning, well, there’s just no way that athlete can compete at a high level, and that extrapolates to the normal everyday athlete. I think that we’re all trying to take our performance to a new level or as we get older, keep our performance at a certain level. If you’re not able to train and you’re not able to work out and not have any pain, that’s just not possible.
What kind of patients do you see on a daily basis?
I would say our practices is a good mix. You know, naturally we certainly have our athletes with ankle fractures, Achilles tendon ruptures, and acute fractures. We also have a lot of deformity correction, which brings us into a completely different age group of our 50, 60, 70-year-old patients with arthritis deformities that require attention when we’re trying to get a foot to fit the shoe, and we’re no longer able to get the shoe to fit the foot. So we have probably a good mix of 50-50 high-level athletes to medium level athletes. And then also certainly our older population, which is looking to stay comfortable and continue a high-level of function.
What are some of the high-level athlete surgeries that you performed and that you see a lot in the practice?
Well, I and my partners are pretty lucky. We have two colleges here in the Kenosha area and we’ve been providing care to those colleges over many years. And we see a lot of acute injuries such as Achilles tendon ruptures, lateral ankle ligament ruptures, peroneal tendon ruptures, acute fractures, ankle fractures, metatarsal, and foot fractures. The good thing with seeing this nice volume of patients is it allows us to develop skills that are some of the more… It allows us to develop, or it allows us to keep our skills at a high level to provide the most cutting-edge care to these athletes that we can.
If somebody was starting their search out now, they had a deformity, they’re high-level athlete and they’re looking for some name in your area to perform surgery, or maybe do some research on what they needed. What would be some things that you would recommend they look out for?
Well, first thing that I would look at is I would visit a practitioner’s website, try to get some background on the practitioner. I would also ask around in the community. I think that previous patients, as well as nurses and hospitals can pretty quickly tell you who is the right person to see in the area. I think that our group really stands out in that manner, that most of our referrals are coming from physicians, physicians’ families, nurses, nurses’ families, that we work with in surgery. And to speak to that a little further, I would have not one second hesitation sending my loved ones to my partner, Dr. Nute, or any of the physicians in our practice. I think that that speaks a lot because I know that they feel the same way.
I noticed somewhere online, you’d mentioned kind of taking ownership of the preparation or the healing after foot surgery. What are some ways that you would recommend people prepare before they go into surgery?
Well, I’m a little different. I never mind when people do Google searches or internet searches. I think having an informed patient is the best patient. Now, I think you need to temper that with having a real sit down conversation with your doctor, your physician and say, “You know, this is how I understand the procedure. This is what I’ve heard.” Because there are a lot of unreal things on the internet, but it’s also a great resource to process information, find information, see pictures. I think when you have that information and you come to a visit with your doctor and you sit down and you explain your concerns or how you feel this procedure will go as well as the recovery. How long will I be in a cast and how long till I can get back to running and how long will it be till I can return to my particular sport.
All of these are very different and they’re different for every athlete. If we’re looking at a marathon runner versus a sprinter, versus an offensive lineman on the field, versus a boxer, versus a swimmer, they’re all different. They all have their unique niche in how the foot and ankle functions and stability. They’re all different in how you can return them to activities.
You’ve probably seen people at all different stages of issues. What are some good tips for knowing when to come in to see your foot doctor?
That’s a great question. I think that the most important thing is to address these issues early. I think we’ve all been in that spot where we try to avoid going to the doctor and we put things off. In my experience, not only personally, but also professionally is these problems almost always tend to get worse. They don’t tend to go away. And addressing, say, an ankle ligament issue early sometimes doesn’t require surgery, or if you address it early with surgery and you just have to repair the ligaments, sometimes it doesn’t go on to also involve a tendon damage. So I think, getting the information, addressing it early, having an appropriate evaluation that’s thorough, with the appropriate testing, goes a long way in preventing issues down the road.
What are some of the most frequently asked questions?
Frequently asked questions, yeah. You know, we receive a lot of questions on minimally invasive surgery and what are the benefits of say minimally invasive surgery to a traditional open surgery. We look at a lot of these in terms of something as simple as a bunion correction. There have been advances in minimally invasive surgery where we don’t have to make big incisions, a lot of soft tissue dissection, and we can do these osteotomies through smaller incisions through placements, through smaller incisions. It really results in a faster recovery time and less pain for the patient.
And when minimally invasive surgery is an option, which is always is not an option, but when it is an option, these patients generally return to function much faster and are much happier with the outcome and have much less pain through the process. So minimally invasive surgery is one thing we definitely get a lot of questions about, and that pertains to primarily bunion surgery, a lot of ankle surgery, ankle arthroscopy, lateral ankle stabilization, and even something down the road of Achilles tendon repair. We have some minimally invasive techniques that we use for that that is really proven to be highly effective.