Indiana Woman Gets Relief from Debilitating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

You're working at your desk, trying to ignore the numbness you've had for months in your hand and wrist. Suddenly, a sharp, piercing pain shoots through your wrist and up your arm. Could it be a passing cramp?

More than likely, you have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) – a painful, progressive condition caused by compression of a nerve in the wrist.

After giving birth to her daughter several years ago, Stacy Chandler of Griffith, Ind., found that her chronic wrist pain had worsened. The 30-year-old wife and mother suffered intermittent pain in both wrists for a decade. When the pain was bad, she wore a wrist brace. She tried physical therapy, which offered temporary relief.

"Sometimes my hands would just go numb," she recalls. "I would have to drive with one hand. I also had trouble sleeping. I'd wake up in the middle of the night crying in pain."

The breaking point came when she dropped a potato preparing Thanksgiving dinner in 2011. Her grip strength was seriously compromised. Not only did it threaten her ability to function at home, it also put her livelihood at risk as a phlebotomist drawing patients' blood.

"I had never dropped anything before," she explained. "I couldn't grip. It started to affect my work."

In January of this year, Stacy underwent nerve conduction testing (commonly known as an EM G study) in both arms.

"The doctor told me if I didn't have surgery I'd lose my ability to grip," she recalls.

Stacy was referred to board certified, fellowship-trained hand surgeon John Kung, M.D. Dr. Kung specializes in treating arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fractures, lacerations and occupational injuries, and is trained in the latest minimally invasive techniques, which significantly reduce post-operative pain and recovery time.

After Dr. Kung examined Stacy, he recommended carpal tunnel release surgery on both hands.

Stacy agreed and had the procedure on her right hand at the beginning of February, and on her left hand two weeks later. Both surgeries were performed at Ingalls.

"Carpal tunnel release is one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States," Dr. Kung explained. "It's usually recommended if symptoms last for six months or more and involves cutting the band of tissue around the wrist to reduce pressure on the median nerve."

Carpal tunnel release surgery is done under local anesthesia and performed on an outpatient basis.

"I never realized how bad it really was until after the surgeries," Stacy added. "It was like night and day. I can drive with two hands; I can type for longer (periods of time). Before, when I tried to type, I'd write a sentence and then have to stop. I couldn't pick up heavy things. Everything is so much better now. I would definitely recommend the surgery and Dr. Kung."

After surgery, Stacy was back to work in a month.

"Although symptoms may be relieved immediately after surgery, full recovery from carpal tunnel surgery may take several weeks," Dr. Kung added. "Afterwards, physical therapy helps restore wrist strength."

Recurrence of CTS following treatment is very rare, and most patients recover completely.

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