Patient Finds Relief from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A local teacher is living pain-free thanks to a new surgery method for patients
suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Photo-Chandini.jpg

Napa Valley teacher, Chandini Perera says she suffered for over ten years from severe pain in both of her hands and arms due to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which made it difficult to sleep at night and even use her hands for simple, everyday tasks, like buttoning her shirt or opening a jar of jelly. Thankfully, she was able to find relief through a new method of surgery that involves ultrasound imaging and a small, special surgical device, invented specifically for this purpose. NMRF is tracking the outcomes of patients who have undergone carpal tunnel release using this latest technique at the Bodor Clinic.

 

What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a compression neuropathy. We all have the median nerve, which runs through the middle of our wrist, surrounded by nine tendons that flex our fingers. The tendons can become enlarged, causing pressure inside the tunnel, especially among people who use their hands a lot. According to NMRF Director of Research, Dr. Marko Bodor, “When this happens, you experience pain, numbness and tingling. It also causes significant disability in using the hand.”

A New, Less-Invasive Surgery

In the early 20th century, the first carpal tunnel operations were done at the Mayo Clinic and in London, England. Using general anesthesia, surgeons would make an incision, about three inches long, from the wrist all the way to the middle of the palm. This method requires cutting through the skin and palmar fascia to get to the trans-carpal ligament. Over time, this operation was refined, and the surgeon could successfully fix the problem using a smaller incision. This method is called the “mini open.”

 

In the early 90s, a few surgeons started doing the operations arthroscopically, but the outcomes were no better than the mini open. In the late 90s, Dr. Nakamichi in Japan developed a way to do the procedure utilizing ultrasound imaging. In 2013, Dr. Greg Buncke, Dr. Bruce McCormick and Dr. Marko Bodor were the first in the United States to publish a paper on an ultrasound-guided technique, allowing them to make an incision less than a quarter of an inch.

 

What Patients Are Saying

Chandini Perera is one of 125 patients Dr. Bodor has treated using this latest technique. “I was really suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, and I used to wear a hand brace…but even with that, I would wake up in the middle of the night with pain and have to shake my arms, and had numbness in the morning when I woke up. But then I read that Dr. Bodor had done a few cases using this new procedure, and the patients had good things to say about it. So I made an appointment and after meeting with Dr. Bodor, I decided to go through with it.”

Perera says it was the right decision and she is now pain-free and able to use her hands again, which is a necessity in her job: “I teach three to six year-olds… I need to use my hands a lot, so I’m glad I had this minimally invasive surgery.

Before, I couldn’t even open a bottle of water, because my hands were too weak. My fingers wouldn’t do it. The other nice thing was the recovery time -  because I work with kids, I can't take too many days off, but since it wasn’t the kind of surgery where you need stitches or anything like that, after a few days I was back at work.  I’ve now had the procedure done in both hands. I have so much relief and my wrists are pretty much back to normal. It’s been a few years and I'm doing great.  It’s such a huge change from what it was before, and I’m really thankful.”

 

This technique is currently performed by Dr. Bodor and 45 other surgeons in the United States. The NMRF research team continues to track patients like Perera, who have undergone ultrasound-guided carpal tunnel release using the Sonex device and as of the date of this publication, 97 patients have passed the one-year mark with an average of almost zero pain and no disability. The Foundation plans to publish its findings in the near future.