Medical procedure cures forms of tendonitis

2 years 5 months 5 days ago November 18, 2014 Nov 18, 2014 Tuesday, November 18 2014 Tuesday, November 18, 2014 6:15:00 PM CST in News
By: Alexandra Engel, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - A new medical procedure called Percutaneous Tenotomy or PT uses the same sound-wave technology that gets rid of cataracts to cure plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, golfer's elbow, and other forms of tendonitis.

Columbia Orthepedic Group Doctor Matt Thornburg desribed tendonitis as a chronic degenerative condition that is caused by excessive strain or overuse which results in an abnormal tendon that's unable to heal itself. Many times, the tendon swells from this overuse and until the development of PT, cortisone shots were the only non-surgical choice to remedy to the pain. 

"The problem with cortisone shots is they don't address the underlying problem. They help with pain at first, but that eventually wears off and there's still a damaged tendon there causing a lot of pain," said Thornburg.

A pain that fitness instructor and avid runner, Jenny Gabriel is all too familiar with. Jenny teaches fitness classes every week at the Macon YMCA but when she started having severe pain in both of her feet she sought out help from Dr. Thornburg. 

"I started driving to Columbia to see Dr. Thornburg about my planters fasciitis in my feet. I had it in both of them and it hurt so bad I could hardly walk, especially in the morning," explained Gabriel. 

Through the years, Gabriel tried cortisone shots and numerous stretching techniques for her pain but it didn't subside. 

"I was really out of options. At the time I had the procedure done I was one of the first to have it and it was experimental but I was completely out of options," said Gabriel. 

The procedure lasts between 5 and 10 minutes and uses one needle and ultrasonic energy to get rid of damaged tissue, according to Thornburg. 

"Getting set up for the procedure took longer than the actual thing. It was really easy. It didn't hurt at all it just felt like a weird pressure on the heel of my foot," said Gabriel. You can hear more about Gabriel's story by clicking here

Lucky for Gabriel, she responded to the procedure and said she was back to training full force at the gym in less than six weeks. That's why less than a year later, she had the procedure done on her other foot. Now, Gabriel has no pain or signs of planters fasciitis. 

"In the medical world we can never guarantee perfect results 100% of the time. I've been involved with this procedure since development and I'd say roughly 70% of patients have successful results where they're not experiencing pain anymore," said Thornburg. 

Those who don't respond to the procedure do not incur any additional damage to their tendons, according to Thornburg. 

"I've really struggled to pin point why some respond and others don't. I'm still working on that. But the patients that don't respond don't add any additional damage so there's no harm in trying it," said Thornburg. 

Thornburg is one of the only two doctors in Columbia that perform PT. He said he's had patients from across the nation come to him for this particular procedure. 

"It's not popular yet. A lot of people don't know there is a way to cure tendonitis and other related issues and there's not a ton of doctors out there performing the procedure yet. It's still new," said Thornburg. 

But if you're within ear shot of Gabriel she might just sell you on it herself. Gabriel recommends the procedure to her fitness students and said she's already had a couple of friends have the procedure and successful results. 

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