Dr. Steven Chudik
Arthroscopic Shoulder & Knee Surgery
After a conversation with Dr. Steven Chudik, it is easy to see how passionate he is about his craft. Even though he could have spent our time together discussing his current research or his recent professional accomplishment of being named US News & World Report Top Doctor in Orthopaedics- he didn’t. Instead much of our conversation was about his enthusiasm for orthopedics, patient success, and how communication with his medical team is key.
With an uncle as an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Chudik was able to see, at a young age, all of the “really great” aspects of being a doctor. “[My Uncle] was one of the first ones in the northwest suburbs of Chicago to start working with the high schools—I just thought it was the coolest thing to be sitting on the sidelines at a football game”, Dr Chudik remembers. Even though being under the lights on a Friday night was a great draw, Dr. Chudik recalls the moment that lead him down the same path as his uncle.
“I would follow my uncle into the athletic training room”, Chudik says, “and thought it was really cool to see my uncle reassuring an injured athlete and their family. His response was always simple but he would just say ‘Listen, this is going to be ok, we’ll get through this’. And I thought, “Hey, that’s really amazing to be able to comfort this family.”
Going through college, Dr. Chudik was able to get exposed to a lot of different forms of medicine. The experiences he had with his uncle and the fact that orthopedics was the perfect balance of challenge and fun, ultimately helped him decide that orthopedics was IT! Dr Chudik explains simply, “I’d think, hey, if I have to work for a living in the future, [orthopedics] would be a lot of fun.”
Now, years later, Dr. Chudik has definitely left his mark in the orthopedic world—particularly in knee and shoulder cases. “Where I trained in residency, there was not a big shoulder program, but something about the anatomy of the shoulder really drew me to that”, Dr. Chudik explains. During his residency, Dr. Chudik was fortunate to train with Dr. Bill Garrett who he dubs as the knee guru. Chudik was exposed to countless anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgeries and often assisted in the development of injury prevention programs. Still, with his curiosity and his knowledge about the shoulder anatomy and shoulder injuries, Dr. Chudik wanted to master shoulder injuries, just as he has with knee injuries.
“I’m so used to making bad knees right, that’s one of my strengths,” Chudik explains, “but shoulders are kind of my thing too.” He is known and respected in the community, locally and from afar, as a fantastic diagnostician, an objective second opinion, and great at surgical revisions as well. Chudik mentions that during each one of his surgeries (knee or shoulder) his main focus is on each individual’s anatomy. Regardless of the surgery, Dr. Chudik explains that he is always concerned about function, recovery, and simply re-producing their natural patterns of motion and stability. “Everyone’s ACL is a little different. You have to put [the ACL] where it belongs,” Chudik says, “Sometimes people change where the foot attaches…it takes away from the position of the ACL.” Knowing anatomy, whether it be a shoulder or a knee is critical to every “next step”—recovery, physical therapy, activities of daily living, and 10 years from now. Dr. Chudik continues, “Knowing anatomy can save a college athlete from losing their scholarship.”
As crucial as knowledge of anatomy is, in Dr. Chudik’s eyes, physical therapy after surgery is just as important. “It’s crucial. That’s all I can say. Every patient is unique, every patient is different. That’s why communicating with our patients’ physical therapist is so important…” Chudik continues… “There’s no question that a great physical therapy team like Achieve does great with every one, and to get the best outcomes it takes communication between my team, our patient, and Achieve.”
In the world of orthopedic surgery, as the times change, techniques must evolve as well. Kids are getting in to sports at a younger age. They are practicing more, throwing more, running more miles, and with that, come overuse injuries at an earlier age. A higher risk for acute/traumatic injuries also occurs simply due to the hours and intensity these young athletes are putting in to their training. Because of the nature of Achieve’s high level developmental athletes and elite youth athletes, patients have seen first hand the expertise that is needed for a pre-adolescent meniscus/ACL combination, or the rotator cuff of a pitching athlete that needs surgery in the recruiting years of high school. The “art” that goes into medicine is putting the puzzle together: end goals, time off, base strength, commitment, family involvement, age, physical structure and so much more…the best of which is immeasurable and amazing experience.
Even though Dr. Chudik has developed countless amounts of new techniques and skills—revision ACL surgeries, operations near growth plates, and even changing how he does clavicle surgeries to make sure the patient has long-term success—Dr Chudik’s passion is making sure his patients are successful. Coming up with the “next big thing” is not nearly as important to him as coming up with the next big patient success story—patients first, as medicine should be.
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