Minimally-invasive surgery offers relief from carpal tunnel syndrome

Surgeon releases transverse carpal tunnel ligament, performs balloon carpal tunnelplasty

PLANTATION, Fla. – There was a time when Mary Smith's hand hurt so much she couldn't hold onto a cup of coffee.

"At first, I didn't know what it was because I would have this excruciating pain in my hands and it always happened at night," said Smith.

Sandra Scee suffered the same kind of pain.

"The burning is what bothered me there," she said. "The feeling like it was burning like -- what was the word -- peculiar sensation."

Tests revealed they had carpal tunnel syndrome.

"Carpal tunnel syndrome is a compression of the median nerve at the wrist," said Dr. David Blum, an orthopedic surgeon. "It can cause numbness, pain. Some people complain -- particularly at night -- of waking up with pain and numbness in the hand, and as it gets worse, people will often complain of tingling during the daytime.

Blum approached the problem through a tiny incision in the wrist. He released the transverse carpal tunnel ligament to ease pressure off the nerve, and also performed a balloon carpal tunnelplasty to provide more room for the nerve.

"The idea is to give the patients more area for the median nerve within the carpel tunnel without actually destroying the tissues," he said.

Smith and Scee said they are happy to have found relief from carpal tunnel syndrome.

"My kids was teasing me and they say, 'Oh, now you can move those fingers a little bit better you can bake us a cake now,'" said Smith.

"If all the aches in my body would go away as fast as this one went away, I would be very happy," added Scee.

Women are three times more likely than men to develop carpal tunnel syndrome.