Helen Scott had lived with shooting pain in her hand for more than a year before she sought treatment. In fact, she could hardly put on socks or grab a pen without feeling staggering pain. Her daughter, a nurse at the SBL Bonutti Clinic in Effingham, suggested that she make an appointment with Orthopedic Surgeon Frank Lee, MD, FAAOS, and Helen eventually agreed.
“The pain was awful. It was like a shock from an electric fence. My hand did not want to open up either. It kept getting worse and worse, so I knew I had to get it checked out,” Helen said.
In April 2017, Helen met with Dr. Lee, when he diagnosed her with carpel tunnel syndrome and a problem with an anomalous extensor tendon in her left hand. Helen previously had carpal tunnel surgery performed on her right hand, so she knew what to expect. However, she knew nothing about anomalous extensor tendon problems. Dr. Lee explained Helen’s ailments and diagnosis in a way that made her feel like she better understood what was wrong with her body. Essentially, symptoms arise because of increased muscle volume within a small muscle compartment. The muscle in the finger becomes too large for the hand and must be removed to reduce pain.
“He is ‘Super Doctor,’” Helen said. “You can ask Dr. Lee anything. He is conscientious about explaining things to you in ways you will understand.”
Dr. Lee had only performed this specific tendon release surgery one other time, and he wanted Helen to get another opinion to be certain she received the best care. However, the orthopedic surgeon at Barnes Jewish Hospital in St. Louis that Dr. Lee recommended told her to return to the Bonutti Clinic because Dr. Lee is “one of the best hand surgeons in Illinois.” Helen promptly scheduled surgery with Dr. Lee!
“Dr. Lee said he wanted to send me to the best surgeon for my condition, but the doctor at Barnes said that was, in fact, Dr. Lee,” Helen explained.
Dr. Lee performed a carpel tunnel release and excision of Helen’s anomalous tendon in May 2017. She healed and then began three months of physical therapy. Helen believes the repetitive nature of her work for 38 years at General Electric caused her hand pain.
Growing up in the Newton area, Helen has always been close to extended family. Her children live practically next door to her home in Toledo, which is something she enjoys. Helen’s six grandchildren keep her busy, so having full mobility and no pain was especially important to her. She even brings her grandson food nearly every day, since the high school students cannot leave campus for lunch.
“I hear a little knock on my backdoor almost every evening,” Helen said of her four-year-old granddaughter. “I do whatever she wants; it’s usually tea parties.”
The pain used to prevent Helen from doing daily tasks, such as writing or tying shoes. But she now reports zero pain, proudly flexing her fully mobile hand.
“I believe Dr. Lee is the best, I really do. I don’t have any pain and I can move my hand perfectly, so he did a great job,” Helen said.
Helen also recommends investigating any abnormal pain before it becomes unbearable.
“When you have pains that are unusual, you need to get them checked out,” Helen said. “Don’t wait a year like I did.”