South Ga. doctor provides alternative carpal tunnel treatment
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WALB) - The pandemic may have played a role in an increase in people suffering from carpal tunnel.
South Georgia Medical Center (SGMC) has noticed more patients coming in with pain in their hands, wrists and arms.
Some factors may include changes in technology, people working from home in their bedrooms or couch and on the phone, typing more often.
It’s a problem for millions of Americans across the country and in South Georgia.
The modern workforce, daily activities, and even sleep positions have triggered the issue.
If you’re feeling numbness, tingling and cramping in the hands or arm, it’s time to check in with a doctor.
If left untreated, there can be a lack of function and sensation.
“Ergonomic changes are the first treatment and direction. Classically, we’ll advise changing in posture, trying to avoid the repetitive action, trying to change the position, trying to get the wrist into more extended position support. As well as avoiding constant pressure,” said Dr. Robert Kirtley, interventional physiatrist at SGMC.
Kirtley said the problem is seen in all age groups, from young athletes to military personnel. But it’s most common in those over 30.
If habit changes don’t help, the next step is a carpal tunnel release treatment.
Kirtley is one of only two doctors in the state that can perform a healing procedure that does not require traditional surgery.
A remedy without painful scars, stitches or general anesthesia, it’s called the “UltraGuide Carpal Tunnel Release.”
“Why cut someone open if we can actually do the intervention while seeing inside you,” said Kirtley.
Using imaging to look inside the hand, studying the nerves and making a quick diagnostic.
“For the carpal tunnel release, I utilize a machine just like this, seeing inside the hand, passing a very small instrument through the wrist crease into the carpal tunnel safe zone, I can see the tiny, little blade deploy and see cut exactly what needs to be cut,” said Kirtley.
Cutting inside instead of outside and a small incision, the procedure takes between 5-10 minutes. And then, the patient is cured and returns to work and back to normal in a few days.
Traditional surgeries require anesthesia, cutting into the palm and a longer road to recovery.
People may go without seeking treatment due to fear of surgery, long recovery time or costs.
Kirtley said he’s excited to be able to offer this alternative method to the south Georgia community.
“It’s sometimes challenging introducing new technique into an area but this was originally developed with a group out of Mayo Clinic so a lot of the ground research is there. Over the last decade the military has been doing things like this as well so being able to take the training and expertise out of the Department of Defense and bringing it into a smaller civilian community is very exciting,” said Kirtley.
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