Health Watch

Discovering a New Source of Wrist Pain

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Millions of people are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis every year. But now one doctor says some of them may have the wrong diagnosis. He discovered a new source of wrist pain and for some professional and every day athletes, the solution saved their joints and their games.

What does this woman have in common with a pro baseball player? They both had a mysterious wrist injury that threatened to take them away from their favorite games.

"It was just a persistent, aching, occasional, sharp pain," Barbara Metcalf told Ivanhoe.

Metcalf found a solution when she found Dr. Richard Berger.

"Up until a few years ago, I didn't know this condition existed," Dr. Berger said.

Dr. Berger discovered what is now known as a UT tear. The ligament that runs from the lower arm to the pinky side of the hand twists and splits down the middle.

"Many of them have gone from physician to physician," Dr. Berger explained.

He developed a minimally invasive surgery to cure the wrist pain. He makes three small holes and inserts an arthroscope and razor to shave down the inflamed tissue. Then, he puts stitches across the ligament.

"We simply pull them tight, and as we do so, it folds the ligament back up into its normal position," Dr. Berger said.

It's a discovery Philadelphia Phillie Jayson Werth credits with saving his career.

"To go from where I came from and a short few years later to be a world champion," Jayson Werth explained.

Metcalf says the surgery saved her retirement plans. And wait until you hear about her first swing after surgery.

"It just made a beautiful arch and then it came down and made one bounce and went into the cup," Metcalf recalled. "I got a hole in one."

Patients must wear a cast on their forearm for six weeks after surgery. The surgery is an outpatient procedure. Dr. Berger is now teaching the technique to other doctors.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Natalie Sobotta, Secretary to Richard Berger, M.D., Ph.D.
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN
(507) 284-3664

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