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Dr. Brett Kindle of Andrews Institute discusses new procedure that drastically reduces the recovery time for carpal tunnel syndrome treatment.
The pain and numbness in Bill Armstrong's wrists built up over two-and-a-half decades, souvenirs of the daily wear and tear of 24 years as a trainer in the U.S. Army.
To his relief, the damage only took a few days to undo.
Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine is using a new procedure called Ultrasound Guided Carpal Tunnel Release that allows patients with carpal tunnel syndrome to get treated and go back to their normal lives within a few days instead of a few weeks.
"Usually you can plan to start back at work in about a week, depending on your pain tolerance," said Dr. Brett Kindle, who provides the treatment at Andrews. "A lot of people can actually get back sooner, but that depends patient to patient."
The treatment combines ultrasound technology and a Mayo-clinic designed "microknife." The physicians can insert the knife through a small incision in the wrist, then use ultrasound to guide the knife as they perform the procedure.
The current standard treatment, which involves cutting the hand from heel to palm to access damaged nerves and tendons, usually takes four to six weeks to heal. The new technique has identical long-term results as the old method, but heals in a fraction of the time.
"Less invasive techniques allow us to do a similar procedure with less collateral damage, and then the patients can recover faster and get back to their daily lives quicker," Kindle said.
Kindle said the method is slowly becoming more common around the country, but in the Southeastern U.S. only Andrews Institute and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta are currently providing the treatment.
Armstrong said he jumped on board as soon as he found out the treatment was available.
"I had it done on a Monday, Wednesday I was playing golf and Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday I fished in a fishing tournament," Armstrong said.
The heightened recovery speeds could mean a lot for both workplace productivity and worker health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, carpal tunnel syndrome treatments are the second-most common type of musculoskeletal surgery. There are more than 300,000 procedures performed annually, and carpal tunnel syndrome causes the highest number of work days lost among all work-related injuries.
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