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DENVER (CBS4) – Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful hand condition that most people don’t know it can be cured in a 15 minute surgery. CBS4 health specialist Kathy Walsh got to sit in an operation that’s done wonders for a local artist.
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects about 2 percent of the population. It’s more common in women. The cause isn’t known, but doctors say it is not brought on by repetitive motions, such as computer work, like most think.
Barbara Boyd found relief at Parker Adventist Hospital. She’s an artist who has painted in pain for years.
“I would wake up in the morning and I would start shaking my hand and arm,” Boyd said. “I was numb all the way up to my shoulder.”
Boyd’s pain would wake her up at night and she lost strength in her hands.
“So I would have to stop painting, I couldn’t drive the car,” she said.
Boyd tried physical therapy and depended on the pain medication Aleve. This January she opted for surgery on her right hand.
“Immediately after the surgery my numbness was gone,” she said. “I felt an instantaneous release of pressure in my hand and honest to goodness it was amazing.”
It worked so well Boyd went back to Parker Adventist Hospital to have the same endoscopic procedure done on her left hand.
Dr. In Sok Yi made a tiny incision in the wrist and inserted a small tube containing both a camera and a cutting tool. The transverse carpal ligament was cut, releasing the pressure on the nerve. It only took about 15 minutes.
“I let my patients start writing and typing almost immediately after surgery,” Yi said.
Boyd planned to be painting in just days.
“I expect to feel like the bionic woman,” she said. “I can’t wait and I will hopefully be pain free and throw away the bottle of Aleve.”
Boyd went home from the hospital with just one stitch.
Yi said as with any surgery there are risks, including bleeding, infection and nerve damage. But he’s done about 2,500 of the surgeries in 10 years and he said the vast majority of patients have less pain than traditional carpal tunnel surgery and a quicker recovery.