HEALTH BEAT: New technology for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome surgery

Published 11:33 am Friday, October 7, 2022

From ECU Health

If you have experienced the pain, tingling or weakness that can occur with carpal tunnel syndrome, you are not alone. Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a fairly common condition which occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand, the median nerve which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist. Thankfully, what was once a complex treatment for CTS can now be accomplished more quickly and more effectively through new surgical interventions that reduce recovery times.

Milder symptoms of CTS can be treated with physician-directed home care, which may include wearing a wrist splint, avoiding daytime activities that may provoke symptoms, performing specific exercises and taking breaks from tasks to rest the hand. Medications may also be prescribed to relieve pain and inflammation.

In many cases, non-surgical treatments only provide temporary results, with symptoms eventually returning. Surgery typically becomes the recommended treatment option when this occurs.

“Carpal tunnel release surgery is one of my more common surgeries,” said Dr. Jeff Barwick, orthopedic surgeon, ECU Health Beaufort Hospital. “Traditionally, we would make an incision in the palm to access the tunnel and free the median nerve. The recovery would take anywhere from two weeks on the fast end to several months on the slow end. Also, during this recovery period, many patients would not be able to resume their normal activities using their hands due to pain and weakness.”

A modified procedure performed at ECU Health Beaufort called carpal tunnel release with UltraGuideCTR can perform the surgery less invasively and with much quicker recovery time for the patient.

“Now, because of ultrasound guidance, we can essentially perform the same surgery but using a much smaller incision,” said Dr. Barwick. “We also come under the muscles of the hands instead of having to cut through them. The healing of the incision and the muscles has traditonally slowed down the recovery process. The ultrasound essentially serves as my eyes and allows me to see into the carpal tunnel with a very minimal incision. Having carpal tunnel release with UltraGuideCTR available at ECU Health Beaufort Hospital offers community members convenient access to the procedure and allows them to stay close to home. Patients can also enjoy a better quality of life. When people can’t enjoy life due to pain, numbness and weakness in the hands and wrists, this can be taxing to them mentally, emotionally and physically.”

Some of the benefits of this new technology include a faster recovery time as opposed to the weeks of recovery involved with traditional carpal tunnel surgery. Going underneath the muscles with a drastically smaller incision, rather than cutting, creates a more positive experience for patents and often times allows them to return to work and the activities they enjoy within three to six days.

According to Sonex Health, Dr. Barwick is the first physician in North Carolina to offer his patients both carpal tunnel release and trigger finger release with real-time ultrasound guidance. Providing this new and innovative technology for the local community is another example of ECU Health fulfilling its mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina. For more information about carpal tunnel treatment options including the ultrasound assisted surgery, please call ECU Health Orthopedics Washington at 252-946-6513.