The standard tooth pick measures 2 5/8 inches. So does a new tool that can help to relieve tendon pain with just a 15-minute outpatient procedure.
The new minimally invasive technique, called fasciotomy and surgical tenotomy (FAST), is designed to break down and extract damaged tendon tissue in areas such as the knee, ankle, heel and elbow.
“Chronic tendon pain affects more than 10 million people in the United States annually,” said Mark Lavallee, MD, a fellowship-trained sports medicine physician at WellSpan. “The FAST technique is a new option that can help address some of the most common forms of tendon pain. It allows patients to return to normal activity in two to six weeks.”
Lavallee added, "We use a local anesthesia to numb the area. Once the treatment area is numb, we use ultrasound imaging to view the damaged tendon.
"We then insert an instrument resembling a hollow-tipped needle and break up scar tissue with ultrasonic energy."
Meanwhile, the treated tissue is suctioned away safety and quickly, without disturbing the surrounding healthy tendon. The incision is so small only an adhesive bandage is needed.
What are the advantages of FAST?
- Outpatient procedure
- Quick relief from pain
- Replicates what is done in open surgery, but is minimally invasive
- No anesthesia is required
- Fast recovery time
- Accelerated healing
- Most patients need no physical therapy
“FAST has really changed the way that we are able to treat tendon pain, caused from things like tennis and golfer's elbow or swimmer's shoulder.
"Patients love this option because it's performed in an outpatient setting and offers quick pain relief and return to normal activities," said Lavallee.
WellSpan staff members and others are encouraged to check with their insurance company or health plan to see if this new procedure will be covered under their policy.