By: Dr. Nina Patel-Hinkle, special to SportsMD.com
Tendonitis, tennis elbow or a painful achilles tendinopathy were conditions that didn’t have a lot of relief in the past, unless they became severe enough to require major surgery. But now, with the TENEX procedure performed at The CORE Institute—these tendon problems can be addressed in less than an hour with minimal recovery on the patient’s part.
The TENEX procedure takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, depending on where the damaged tissue is located. There are no stitches at all, and the incision is very small. It’s a minimally invasive procedure—in which we specifically identify the damaged tissue, cut and remove it.
The first step of the procedure is to use an ultrasound machine to identify where the tendon is damaged. Then we use a local anesthetic to numb the area, and the patient does not go under general anesthesia at all.
Next, they make a small incision into the skin and insert the TENEX device. It’s the size of a pen or pencil, with a probe that moves in a back and forth motion. The probe delivers ultrasonic waves to remove the damaged tissue. The total time for treatment is very minimal anywhere from a minute to three or four minutes.
Once the damaged tissue is removed, the physician removes the probe, and the incision is closed with steri-strips and a bandage.
I’ve been really surprised with how little pain the patients have during the procedures. Most patients also make significant improvements in their symptoms within a week.
With the invasive surgeries that were performed prior to the TENEX procedure’s introduction, patients had to go under anesthesia and have larger incisions, which meant longer recovery times.
The most important benefit I’ve seen with the TENEX procedure has been the ability to get the patient back to their desired activities quickly. Being a minimally invasive procedure, the recovery time is much faster.
The recovery time from the TENEX procedure is about six to eight weeks, but patients can be more active than with open surgeries. You’re not laid up, you’re still able to do some activities, but with certain restrictions.
Before Tenex it was basically conservative treatment which included physical therapy, avoiding activities that bother the condition, a brace or a strap, and cortisone injection. Open surgery was an option for severe cases. But now patients have an option that removes the problem with minimal fuss.
In addition to the elbow, the surgery is also performed on shoulders, knees, achilles tendon, and other locations. Prior to the use of TENEX, physicians recommended many non-surgical options to treat painful tissue damage.
About Dr. Nina Patel-Hinkle: Nina Patel-Hinkle DO, CAQSM is a board-certified physician in Family Medicine specializing in Non-Surgical, Rehabilitative & Sports Medicine at The CORE Institute. She is fellowship trained in Primary Care Sports Medicine. Dr. Patel-Hinkle received her Primary Care Sports Medicine fellowship training from the University of Florida: Primary Care Sport Medicine Fellowship program. She completed her residency and internship in Family Practice Program and received her medical degree from Midwestern University- Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine. Prior to joining The CORE Institute, Dr. Patel-Hinkle served nine years in the United States Navy and attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander. During her active duty time, she worked at several Naval medical facilities, providing care for members of the military and their families both at home and overseas. Dr. Patel-Hinkle served as the Head of the Department of Sports Medicine at the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where she provided musculoskeletal injury evaluations and treatments to service members and taught family medicine residents during their sports medicine rotations. Most recently, she provided treatment to service members and wounded warriors at the Marine Sailor Concussion Recovery Center at Camp Lejeune. Dr. Patel-Hinkle is a member of the American Osteopathic Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, American College of Sports Medicine, and American Medical Society for Sports Medicine.