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  • Writer's pictureDr. Terrell Joseph

Patient Story: Dr. Terrell Joseph Treats Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Jeanne, a surgical scrub nurse, says she never would have known there is a high incidence of carpal tunnel among 50-year old women who are also hypo-thyroid.

For about a year, Jeanne suffered from numbness and tingling that started up one side of her thumb and down the other. It reached into her forefinger and eventually her next two fingers. “I just thought it would get better so I didn’t do anything about it,” says Jeanne.

But it was becoming difficult to do her job scrubbing for surgery and was starting to wake her up at night. She would have to shake her hand to stop the sensation.

One day at work, Jeanne asked one of her colleagues in Summit County, Dr. Peter Janes, about her hand. He diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome on the spot.

Leaving on vacation for a month, Dr. Janes recommended Jeanne schedule surgery with another colleague Dr. Terrell Joseph, who was able to schedule her to be seen immediately.

“I wouldn’t consider going to anyone but Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery. Time is money and they were able to get me in right away,” says Jeanne.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome May Progressively Worsen

For most people, carpal tunnel syndrome will progressively worsen without some form of treatment. Vail-Summit Orthopaedics & Neurosurgery conducted electrical testing of the nerves to confirm the diagnosis.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a common source of hand numbness and pain. Although it is often associated with repetitive hand movements, such as typing, carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by many things.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is more common in women than men. In Jeanne’s case, Dr. Joseph thought there might be a connection to her age and told her to get checked for hypo-thyroid. The test came back positive, just as suspected.

“I was secure in Dr. Joseph’s professional knowledge, so I had no doubt I was in good hands. But he’s also so nice and always upbeat,” says Jeanne. “I really like working with him in the OR; everything goes smoothly and he always has everything under control.” Jeanne has worked with the staff at Vail-Summit Orthopaedics for many years. “During my follow-up, the staff was so good to me and so helpful; I like to think they’re that good to everyone,” says Jeanne.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - How is Surgery Done?

Carpal tunnel surgery is done on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. As someone who spends a lot of time in the operating room, Jeanne knew exactly what to expect.

During surgery, a cut is made in the palm. The roof of the carpal tunnel is divided. This increases the size of the tunnel and decreases pressure on the nerve.

Once the skin is closed, the ligament begins to heal and grow across the division. The new growth heals the ligament and allows more space for the nerve and flexor tendons.

What Happens After Carpal Tunnel Surgery?

After surgery, Jeanne was instructed to frequently elevate her hand above her heart and move her fingers to reduce swelling and prevent stiffness.

Some pain, swelling, and stiffness can be expected after surgery. Jeanne scheduled a vacation after surgery so she could recuperate. Although Jeanne was back to work using her hands in less than three weeks, minor soreness in the palm is common for several months after surgery.

On advice from Dr. Joseph, Jeanne continues to stretch her wrist to break up the scar tissue and minimize weakness. “I’m just grateful the numbness and tingling is gone,” says Jeanne, who is back to using her wrist in a variety of ways.

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