Traditionally, pain in the hand that required a carpal tunnel release surgery was more of a pain on the patient’s schedule and lifestyle. Recovery from a carpal tunnel release surgery used to be lengthy, spanning an average of six weeks of slow healing and restricted mobility. On top of that, many patients require this surgical intervention in both hands. Once the first hand healed, the patient would then undergo surgery on the other hand and endure a doubly long recovery period and disruption to daily life.
Times have changed! Advancements in carpal tunnel procedures remarkably allow for a patient to have both hands repaired simultaneously and to fully recover within one to three weeks. Dr. Brian Hill, a plastic and hand surgeon with Froedtert South Medical Group, is helping more community members than ever with this new, less-invasive endoscopic technique.
IT’S ALL IN THE WRIST
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway on the palm side of the hand where the median nerve passes through. Idiopathic compression of the median nerve causes carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms can include numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and arm. While there is often no single cause for carpal tunnel syndrome, repetitive motion activities such as extensive computer key boarding, the positioning of your wrist while you are working or long-term exposure to vibrating tools such as power drills could all contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.
For individuals who have been procrastinating on scheduling a carpal tunnel release surgery, now is the time to seize the day. This breakthrough care in carpal tunnel surgeries provided locally by Dr. Hill is helping patients find fast relief from chronic hand and wrist pain.
“I am able to perform this procedure endoscopically, meaning with the assistance of a tiny camera inserted into the carpal tunnel,” said Dr. Hill. “This is unique in that it involves a much smaller quarter-of-an-inch incision at the wrist and not the traditional two-inch incision on the patient’s palm. Recovery is significantly faster with the endoscopic procedure because several layers of tissue, including the thick palm skin and a muscle in the palm, are no longer cut to gain access to the carpal tunnel.”
Dr. Hill is enthusiastic about this procedure because it has drastically reduced the amount of time a patient’s life is disrupted by pain and recovery. Dr. Hill said, “The small incision is closed with dissolvable stitches that are placed under the skin and skin glue is applied to the surface. The patient is able to get the incision wet and use their hand and wrist for gentle activities immediately after surgery. This procedure is performed with the patient under light sedation and does not require a general anesthetic. Furthermore, I am able to complete the procedure on both hands at the same time whereas the traditional technique typically allows for only one hand at a time.”
THE HANDS THAT SERVE
Kym England has a successful career in the service industry as a managing partner of the local Cheddar’s restaurant. Kym’s work days include long hours and manual labor. During the height of the recent pandemic, many restaurants, including Kym’s, reduced the number of team members on staff. This resulted in Kym covering even more restaurant hours and completing additional manual labor tasks. Kym loves what she does, cooking and serving meals for patrons, but she began to have debilitating pain in her right hand.
Cooking, washing dishes, carrying plates, cleaning tables, and stocking supplies became excruciating tasks for Kym. She could barely hold on to objects with her right hand. Her fear was that any procedure to heal her pain was going to keep her away from work far too long.
Kym’s primary care physician referred her to Dr. Hill who recommended a nerve conduction test. The results confirmed severe nerve compression in Kym’s right hand and also found that Kym’s left hand had significant nerve compression. “My right hand hurt so much that I did not even notice how compromised my left hand was, too,” said Kym. “I understood that I needed surgery, but I knew I could not be away from work for months. Dr. Hill shocked me when he explained that he could repair both of my hands at the same time and confidently stated that I would be back to work in one to three weeks.”
Kym emphasized that she strives to set herself up for success in life, so she scheduled the right and left carpal tunnel release surgeries for the same day and prepared for three weeks off of work. “I was nervous, but Dr. Hill was very comforting,” said Kym. “He explained everything in terms that I could readily understand, and I was more than eager to live a pain-free lifestyle again.”
The day after Kym’s carpal tunnel release surgery, she was able to remove her bandages and take a shower. “I could even hold onto a glass of water,” said Kym. “By the third post-surgery day I blow dried my hair. By the fourth day I zipped up my pants. Seven days in and I could drive again. I healed so quickly! Since my job is very physical and I use my hands constantly, I waited the full three weeks to return to work. When I went back to the restaurant, I returned full speed with no restrictions. I was fully healed and capable of doing everything. It was a phenomenal feeling.”
“I am ever grateful for Dr. Hill. He is such a kind doctor,” said Kym. “On my procedure day, I overheard the staff talking positively about being able to assist Dr. Hill that day. There was excitement surrounding Dr. Hill being there, and I could tell the team really likes and respects him. My hands, wrists, and arms feel great, I have minimal scarring, and my hands are painlessly doing their job. I would go to Dr. Hill for anything.”
MORE THAN HELPING HANDS
Beyond being a skilled hand surgeon, Dr. Hill is also a talented plastic surgeon. Dr. Hill offers a broad range of aesthetic services including liposuction, abdominoplasty, brachioplasty, breast enhancement surgery including augmentation, mastopexy, and reduction, thigh lift, blepharoplasty, and more. Several non-surgical rejuvenation options are available at Dr. Hill’s office such as Botox, facial fillers, laser hair removal, CoolSculpting, CoolTone, microdermabrasion, a full skincare product line, IPL (intense pulse light) for treatment of skin tone variations like sun spots, freckles, and small blood vessels, and laser facial resurfacing.
“One of the unique benefits of our office at the Prairie Ridge Clinic is that we are a medical office that only offers services that are proven medically and supported by research to be effective. All of our services are performed under the direct supervision of a plastic surgeon,” said Dr. Hill.
For further descriptions of the variety of Dr. Hill’s services, visit www.hillplasticsurgery.com.