This story appeared in our Fall 2013 Update Community Newsletter.
Dairy farmer Dawn Blodgett has struggled with foot pain her whole life. But when a lump formed on the bottom of her left foot last summer, what was a daily ache turned into sharper pain.
“I felt like I was stepping on a marble,” says 33-year-old Dawn of Brookfield.
Gifford podiatrist Dr. Robert Rinaldi diagnosed the nodule as plantar fibromatosis. Dawn tried orthotic shoe inserts and wearing sneakers instead of barn boots, but still the pain persisted. Dr. Rinaldi offered another possible solution. On the day before Thanksgiving, he performed a new procedure – a Tenex Health TX.
The procedure is aimed at relieving tendon pain – a problem for millions of Americans. Tendon pain is often the result of damage or overuse injuries. The body attempts to heal itself, causing scar tissue. Scar tissue can be painful because it doesn’t stretch and function as a tendon should, explains Dr. Rinaldi.
The Tenex procedure removes and breaks up the scar tissue, or in Dawn’s case the nodule. It is a procedure that doesn’t require general anesthesia or even a single stitch. Patients are given local anesthesia, or an injection. The doctor then makes a very small incision and inserts a device the size of a needle. The device is used to make holes in the scar tissue and delivers ultrasound energy designed to break down and remove damaged tissue. Saline solution helps keep tissues cool during the procedure.
The procedure takes about 20 minutes.
For Dawn, the relief was immediate.
“As soon as the procedure was done, there was an immediate difference,” she says. “I cooked Thanksgiving dinner the next day.”
Today, Dawn is back to milking cows, mucking stalls, doing fieldwork and putting up fencing with much less pain. She’s spending more time with her horses, chasing her kids, and running for exercise.
In fact, she’s 20 pounds lighter than she was before the procedure, which she recommends to others suffering from tendon pain.
The Tenex procedure is new and available for use in orthopedics, sports medicine and podiatry. Gifford is the first hospital in Vermont to offer the technology.