Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one of the most common conditions treated by Sports Medicine and Orthopedic physicians. It affects more than 12 million people per year in the US and carpal tunnel release is the second most common surgery performed, with over 230,000 performed annually.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by compression of the median nerve, as it passes through a narrow space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. Compression of this nerve typically causes numbness, tingling and weakness in the hand, specifically the thumb, index, middle and inside part of the ring finger. If left untreated, this condition may worsen over time and can even cause burning pain, muscle atrophy or muscle wasting.
The most common cause of carpal tunnel syndrome is repetitive motion of the wrist, like when using the computer or doing repetitive movements at work. Underactive thyroid, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and pregnancy can also increase the risk for carpal tunnel syndrome.
If conservative treatments like bracing, ice, NSAID’s (ibuprofen, naproxen), physical therapy or injections fail to relieve the symptoms, the last step is surgical release of the carpal tunnel. Traditionally, carpal tunnel release was performed as an open surgery. A 2 inch incision is made in the palm and wrist and the transverse carpal ligament is exposed and cut. This open surgery often requires a long recovery period, has a high rate of scar tissue formation which can also prolong the recovery period, and as with any surgery, a risk for infection.
Endoscopic carpal tunnel release has a much smaller incision than open carpal tunnel, 1 or 2 incisions around a ½ inch each. A camera is then inserted to visualize the ligament, nerves and artery while the ligament is cut. This method has a faster recovery but also has a slightly higher risk of nerve injury.
Sonex SX-One Microknife is the latest evolution of carpal tunnel release. Developed in the Mayo Clinic, the Sonex procedure was created to provide patients with a safe and effective treatment, with a low risk for infection or scar formation. In the Sonex procedure, a very small incision is made – the incision is so small, a patient won’t even need a single stitch after the surgery. Sonex is performed with ultrasound guidance which allows the physician to visualize all the nerves and blood vessels, whereas with an endoscopic surgery, the physician can only see what is at the end of the camera. Since very little tissue is disturbed, and there is complete visualization, the likelihood of complications such as scar tissue, infection and nerve or vascular damage is extremely low. Because Sonex is minimally invasive, most people can return to their usual activities in a couple of days, unlike in an open surgery which can take weeks to months.
In order to perform the procedure, the physician must be very skilled at musculoskeletal ultrasound. Because of this there are only a couple dozen doctors performing this procedure in the entire country. Dr. Daniel Savarino at Apex Sports and Regenerative Medicine in Tinton Falls is one of these few, select doctors. Dr. Savarino is certified in musculoskeletal ultrasound, and has extensive knowledge in the field.
To recap, Sonex for carpal tunnel provides the smallest incision, the least likelihood of complications and the fastest recovery of any method of carpal tunnel release. To learn more about this cutting edge procedure, please visit Apex Sports and Regenerative Medicine’s website -www.ApexSportsNJ.com or call 732-385-APEX (2739) to see if Sonex is right for you.