LAREDO, Tx. (KGNS) -Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a condition that causes severe pain and discomfort in the hand and fingers. It gradually even decreasing the person’s ability to use their hand. Traditionally, treatment has been through open surgery, but now a new procedure claims it can fix Carpal Tunnel in just ten minutes. So how affective is it in alleviating the pain? A local patient tells us his case was so bad, the pain was keeping him awake each night, even though he tried finding different positions to sleep in.
“You couldn’t sleep, there was no way!” said David Garza. “And it was both my hands, even though the right hand was the worse since I’m right-handed.” Unfortunately, along with feeling the pain at night, David says it was occurring during the day as well.
“If I was doing something, like for example using a hot glue gun, sometimes I would burn myself because of the fact that my hands were numb, I couldn’t feel that it was hot.” To make matters worse, performing his day-to-day duties as the Fine Arts Director at Laredo ISD was becoming difficult for him. So, he went online to try and figure out what he had and determined it was probably Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. At around the same time, David learned a local physician, Armando Gonzalez, was holding a seminar about Carpal Tunnel. So, he headed to the seminar to learn more about it, and while there, met Sports Medicine physician, Dr. Armando Gonzalez.
“Most of my patients experience a lot of pain and numbness,” he says. “A lot of them say at night, they wake up and they’re shaking their hands out.”
Through further exams, Dr. Gonzalez was able to confirm David’s suspicion of Carpal Tunnel, which he says happens when the nerve in the wrist is being pinched by inflammation.
“You have the wrist bones on the bottom, the ligament has a roof on top and inside the tunnel is where the nerve is, and when there’s swelling in there that’s hitting the nerve with nowhere for the pressure to leave, over time, that nerve will get damaged. Up to the point where it could be permanently damaged or permanently affected with all the muscles in the hand going the waste.”
Permanent damage is a scary thought for anyone, but more so for David as he relies on his hands as a multi-media artist. Because of this, he was hoping for an alternative to open surgery–one that would get him back to work as soon as possible.
He didn’t have to look too far; he was able to find an option with Dr. Gonzalez using ultrasound guided technology. It’s a procedure that he says takes less than ten minutes. “I make a small incision where I insert the device and use the ultrasound guide as I follow that tip all the way up until I’m under that ligament. When I’m in a safe position, away from the
artery, away from the nerve, two balloons are deployed, and they’ll push out the nerve one way and the artery out the other way, so there is no artery in the vicinity of that blade.”
The entire procedure takes less than ten minutes, and according to David, he began feeling positive results very quickly.
“By the time I left the hospital I was already moving my fingers,” he said.
According to Dr. Gonzalez, people with Carpal Tunnel whose wrists are too narrow to fit the device will not qualify to undergo this minimally invasive procedure. Also, those whose nerve is crossing over where the cut needs to be made will also have to undergo open surgery for relief. For those who do qualify however, they say this treatment is a game changer.
“For me, it’s allowed me to do things that I hadn’t been able to do in a long time,” said David. “And that is really, really very satisfying.”
As far as recovery from the procedure, Dr. Gonzalez says there will be some swelling and soreness from the procedure itself, but most patients will head back to work within a week.
As far as which cases can be treated using the ultrasound guided procedure, Dr. Gonzalez says cases ranging from mild to severe can be treated.
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