Carpal tunnel surgery returns strength, sensitivity to hunter’s hands

Camouflaged from head to toe, the hunter steps quietly around the lodgepole pines and fir trees, slowly approaching a large bull elk 30 yards ahead.

Stopping and slowly raising his arms, his left hand grips the bow while his right hand pulls the trigger release back to the corner of his mouth. Pausing for just a moment to steady his aim, he releases the arrow toward his target.

For Bryan Jorgensen, 58, who lives with his family in Blackfoot, the mechanics of hunting used to involve numbness and pain in his arms and hands. But after carpal tunnel surgery by Anthony Joseph, MD, an orthopedic specialist at Portneuf Medical Group OrthoIdaho, he is back in the woods hunting again.

Difficulties from numbness

Retired after 30 years as an administrative lieutenant in the Bingham County Sherrif’s Office, Jorgensen has been an avid hunter and outdoorsman since age 15. Born and raised in the area, he left Idaho for only a couple of years to learn how to repair Mercedes Benz and Volvo automobiles in California.

“I still work on cars, ATVs, motorcycles and snow machines,” said Jorgensen. “My wife calls me a ‘jack of all trades.’ I guess I'm one of those guys who can't sit still. I’ve got to be doing something with my hands.”

But when he started noticing his hands were falling asleep while driving, or he needed to stretch his arms after they had been in the same position for a while, he decided to consult an orthopedic specialist.

“The husband of my wife’s friend was having similar issues. He had surgery with Dr. Joseph and experienced very minimal side effects, so we made an appointment.”

Double carpal tunnel surgery

After arriving for his first appointment, Jorgensen was surprised to hear that Dr. Joseph was ready to schedule his surgery within the next two weeks.

“I went in for my exam and they said there was no doubt that the nerves in my hand were compressed in the carpal tunnel,” said Jorgensen.

The staff used an ultrasound to show Jorgensen the carpal tunnel area where nerves and a tendon are positioned under the transverse carpal ligament. “It was a pretty cool experience to see that both wrists had the same issue, so the double surgery made perfect sense,” he said.

After numbing the area with an injection, Dr. Joseph made a small incision and inserted what reminded Jorgensen of one of his mother’s hollow knitting needles.

“Though it’s smaller than a pencil, the device has a mechanism inside that slides a blade back and forth,” said Jorgensen. “Guided by ultrasound to the transverse carpal ligament, Dr. Joseph flipped a lever that slid the blade out to cut the ligament. This relieved the pressure by giving more space for the nerves and the tendon. I was in and out of surgery for both wrists in a short time,” he said.

After 48 hours of swelling and bruising at the surgery sites, Jorgensen was able to get back to normal activities. Two weeks later, he was back hunting with family members, even though he was still a bit cautious.

“We usually have four to five family members and a couple of friends hunt together,” said Jorgensen. “My 12-year-old grandson shot his first elk this year, so he’s excited about the hunts. It’s a good time.”


Jorgensen recommends Dr. Joseph and the staff to everyone who suffers the same symptoms in their arms and hands.

“The staff genuinely cares about patients and they want to help others,” he said. “I’ve heard the stories about older surgery techniques and the side effects, but it’s not that way anymore. Even though I had the procedure on both wrists during the same appointment there weren’t any major side effects. It worked out great for me!”

For more information about Portneuf Health’s orthopedic services, visit our website. To make an appointment with Dr. Anthony Joseph and Portneuf Medical Group OrthoIdaho, please call (208) 233-2100.