Dr. John Sigle, DPM, FACFAS, Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois
Did you ever wonder what a day in the life of a foot and ankle surgeon is like? Every day, Dr. Sigle is “up and at ‘em” at six o’clock in the morning, and he’s ready for a long demanding day. He has a glass of juice, does a half-hour workout, kisses the kids and wife goodbye, grabs a coffee to go, and is off to the hospital for surgery or to the clinic he founded in 2011. Although his weekly schedule is fairly standard, there are times when something out of the ordinary happens and this month, something happened. Dr. Sigle had to pay a special visit to the legendary keyboardist from Journey, Jonathan Cain.
“I’ve known Dr. Sigle for a number of years,” said Jonathan. “He is a personal friend and my adviser when it comes to my foot care. He is so knowledgeable and genuine. I joke with him that he is becoming a rock star for foot care. He’s been interviewed on public radio and local talk shows, and is a spokesperson for the Podiatry Association. His articles on foot care are also reaching a lot of people. My feet take quite a bit of pounding when I am on tour, so every now and then I like to get his help to keep them in good shape. I can always count on his advice. Springfield has a real gem.”
Dr. Sigle’s credentials are impressive, but what is so noteworthy is that he has gone beyond the mainstream to refine his craft. During his three-year residency at Botsford General in Farmington Hills, Michigan, he participated in the Baja Project to provide surgical treatment for children with disabilities at the Mexicali Red Cross Hospital. Then he went on pediatric surgical missions to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Central America, at the San Felipe Hospital. “This experience was extremely gratifying. Indigent peasants were brought into the hospitals with club foot deformities. Our surgery allowed them to walk for the first time and to live a normal life. It really fueled the fire inside me to become a surgeon and made me realize that I needed to get more surgical training,” said Dr. Sigle. He also did a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery rotation at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
When given an opportunity do another year of residency at a prestigious program in San Francisco, Dr. Sigle jumped in with both feet. There, he received training in reconstructive rearfoot surgery, open fractures, foot/ankle fractures and dislocations, infection management, limb salvage, advanced wound care, and trauma.
“I was so very fortunate to study under Dr. Jack Schuberth at the San Francisco Bay Area Foot and Ankle Residency Program. He is one of the leading surgeons in the world, and he was my mentor. He was such an incredible inspiration. He had a profound influence in the way I practice, and I use his principals every day in the operating room and in the clinic. He taught me how to be surgeon and a doctor. He always stressed the importance of blending technical skills with humanitarian skills, how to listen and understand what a patient is feeling, and how to communicate. That has become the cornerstone for my relationship with patients,” said Dr. Sigle.
In 2004, Dr. Sigle finally returned home to Springfield to become a foot and ankle surgeon/podiatrist at the Orthopaedic Center of Illinois. He also became a member of the Physicians’ Panel at Memorial Medical Center’s Wound Healing Center. In 2007, Dr. Sigle received two separate board certifications from the American Board of Podiatric Surgery in foot surgery and in reconstructive/rearfoot and ankle surgery. Having both board certifications is a distinction that very few podiatrists attain.
After practicing for six years, Dr. Sigle traveled to Kurgan, Russia, for more advanced training.
“The training at the Gavriil Ilizarov Hospital was given by the surgeons who were trained under Dr. Ilizarov himself. Dr. Ilizarov was a pioneer bone surgeon known as the ‘Soviet Wizard of Bones.’ He developed procedures and medical apparatuses to lengthen, reshape, and connect deformed limb bones. In the past, patients with fractures that failed to heal or healed incorrectly had little treatment available to them. The only option for patients who required surgical removal of infected bone or cancerous bone was amputation of the affected limb. Ilizarov revolutionized these orthopaedic conditions, and his inventions are considered to be some of the greatest advancements in modern medicine. This training was a real eye opener for me, and it helped me expand my skills for complex foot and ankle reconstruction,” said Dr. Sigle.
Because of recent technological advancements being made in total ankle replacements and medical trends, Dr. Sigle also obtained training and certifications from Wright Medical in the INBONE Total Ankle Replacement, and STAR Ankle Replacement device.
According to Dr. Sigle, “Ankle fusion is the gold standard for end-stage arthritis, but new technological advancements in total ankle replacements and high success rates are causing people to opt for this procedure.”
Dr. Sigle founded the Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois in 2011 and became a clinical assistant professor for Southern Illinois University (SIU) HealthCare, Division of Orthopaedics.
According to Dr. Sigle, “Opening a center dedicated solely to foot and ankle care was been a personal goal since medical school. I wanted to offer the convenience of a one-stop-shop to my patients to fix their foot and ankle problems. We offer a full range of services specializing in deformity correction, trauma, ankle replacement, ankle fusion, reconstructive foot and ankle surgery, sports medicine, pediatric care, diabetic wound care, and general podiatry as well. The center uses state of the art equipment to enhance diagnosis, to provide specialized treatments, and to streamline service.”
Diagnostic equipment includes a barrier-free digital X-ray machine to provide instantaneous imaging, a diagnostic ultrasound machine for special imaging and diagnosis, and smart exam rooms for viewing X-rays, patient education, and medical documentation. Barrier-free exam chairs are provided for patients’ comfort and accessibility. A casting room is available to produce molds for custom orthotics.
The center is also the first podiatry clinic between Chicago and St. Louis to offer GenesisPlus Laser and Cutting Edge MLS Pain Therapy Laser treatments. Both lasers are FDA approved.
According to Dr. Sigle, “Toenail fungus is a huge problem for many people. Conventional topicals and pills are not too effective and many people have adverse side effects. The GenesisPlus laser is safe, quick, relatively painless, and 70-80 percent effective. The Cutting Edge MLS Pain laser is the perfect option for patients who are at the end of the road with conventional treatment options, and tired of having to resort to drug therapy for pain relief. This technology is the wave of the future and many NBA and NFL teams are using it. It is effective for reducing inflammation and speeding the healing process. We use it to treat sports injuries, sprains and strains, occupational injuries, repetitive motion injuries, post-surgical swelling, tendonitis, wounds and bruising, arthritis, and bursitis pain. We have provided over one thousand treatments with both lasers and we are getting wonderful results.”
It is obvious that customer service is of paramount importance to the Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois because they became the first sub-specialty clinic in Illinois to join the KIARA Clinical Integration Network for electronic medical records. The electronic information system is integrated with the entire HSHS provider network. This includes patient scheduling and medical records to streamline the exchange of information with referring physicians, providers, and patients. This system also provides a billing system to simplify coding and collections. An added feature automatically contacts patients to remind them of their appointments.
According to Dr. Sigle, “The check-in process is fast and easy. Patient attendance rates and satisfaction rates are outstanding too. The electronic system is very convenient for other referring physicians, and it simplifies information documentation and exchange.”
The Center also has a comprehensive website that provides online registration and forms and an education library with videos, links to articles, publications, and audio podcasts.
“I try to develop a collaborative relationship with every patient. A better informed patient is able to understand the problem, diagnosis, treatment options, and work with me to formulate a medical plan to heal, restore, and rejuvenate their life. I encourage all patients to visit the website. It’s a very helpful resource,” said Dr. Sigle.
As an added convenience to patients, there is a store that includes a line of diabetic shoes, walking boots, shoe inserts, anti-fungal topicals, shoe sanitizers, nail lacquers, footpads and spacers, and other medical supplies.
“Many of our patients are not in good shape when they see me and an added trip to a store to buy medical supplies or equipment is a hassle,” said Dr. Sigle. “We do our best to accommodate our patients and provide reasonably priced items on hand for their convenience. The bulk of our patients live in Springfield and nearby communities but we have some traveling from one hundred miles away. We recently expanded our laser services to the Greater Peoria Metro area, and we are also opening a full-service podiatry clinic at St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur this month,” said Dr. Sigle.
“We are totally patient centered and motivated to provide world-class foot care in the community I grew up in and in the surrounding areas in central Illinois. I love every aspect of my work and get great satisfaction from helping people who are so extremely appreciative. Despite all the changes and uncertainties that are coming in health care, I am optimistic that the level of care will continue to improve. My pledge is to have a positive impact on patients, colleagues, and the broader community. Regardless of what happens, we are committed to constantly improve our level of care and to be recognized as a leader in foot and ankle care,” said Dr. Sigle.
Dr. Sigle is a member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, American Podiatric Medical Association, and Illinois Podiatric Medical Association. He is board-certified with the American Board of Podiatric Surgery in Foot Surgery and has advanced certification from the American Board of Podiatric Surgery in Reconstructive Rearfoot and Ankle Surgery. Dr. Sigle can be seen at the Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois at 2921 Montvale Drive, Springfield, Illinois, and at St. Mary’s Hospital at 1900 E. Lake Shore Dr., Suite 210, Decatur, Illinois. To schedule an appointment, call 217-787-2700. Visit myfootandanklecenter.com for more information.
As Journey rolled into the State Fair this past August, I had an opportunity to meet up with their keyboardist and songwriter, Jonathan Cain. Jonathan was eager to learn more about new laser treatments for toenail fungus and how to get rid of his foot pain when he plays golf. Here’s the inside scoop.
Cain: We are constantly in and out of locker rooms and some of the road crew has complained about toenail fungus. They haven’t had much luck with the topical drugs or pills. Are you having good success with your laser?
Dr. Sigle: Lasers are being used across the country to treat toenail fungus with great success. The GenesisPlus laser that we use is FDA approved. Treatments take around 10-15 minutes and patients are able to resume daily activities. We have given close to 700 treatments and our success rates are around 75-80 percent for acute cases and 70-75 percent for chronic cases. We recommend using antifungal topicals and an ultra violet shoe sanitizer to safeguard against recurrence.
Cain: Are the treatments painful?
Dr. Sigle: Treatments are relatively pain-free. You feel a small hot pinch at the end that resolves quickly. There are no painful injections, drugs, or side effects.
Cain: How many treatments are necessary?
Dr. Sigle: The number of treatments can vary depending on the severity of the infection; however, we give patients three treatments to achieve optimum results. Treatments are scheduled in four to six week intervals. It takes six to nine months to see new healthy nails emerge.
Cain: I try to get in a game of golf whenever I can, but I am having trouble with my feet. What’s up with that?
Dr. Sigle: Golf is stressful on your feet and ankles because of excessive walking up and down hills. It puts abnormal stress on your Achilles tendon; and walking on uneven surfaces puts a lot of strain on the tendons along the outer portion of the ankle. If you don’t stretch beforehand, you will put a lot of wear and tear on your muscles that may lead to severe tendonitis. You will be surprised how much better your feet feel at the end of a round of golf if you use custom orthotics.
As we finished our little chat, Jonathan gave me a high-five and said, “Be good to yourself Doc!” I smiled and said, “Be good to your feet Jonathan!” I am convinced that the fountain of youth is not out of reach for people with foot and ankle problems. You have the power to turn back the clock on your foot problems.
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