Wrist op puts veteran biker on top

Like many other racers, veteran enduro rider Graham Darby suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful wrist condition that was putting his racing future in jeopardy, until an operation saw him back on the podium.

14th November 2016

Southampton NHS Treatment Centre - Success Stories - Graham DarbyGraham Darby, from Newport on the Isle of Wight, has been racing bikes since the age of 14 but, like many other riders, he had been experiencing excruciating pain in his wrist caused by wear and tear on the track.

Graham explained:

The right wrist was worse as it was working the brake and throttle. A third of the way into a race I would start to lose the feeling in my hand and, when you are on a demanding specialist section of an off-road track, that can be very unnerving. One false move and you could be in a tree and looking at a broken collar bone.

The pain started to affect other aspects of his life, such as driving, using a computer keyboard and even lack of sleep due to waking up in pain in the middle of the night, so Graham sought medical advice, including getting the opinion of a fellow enthusiast who is a GP. He recommended specialist hand surgeon Vasileios Kefalas, at Southampton NHS Treatment Centre, who had worked on a number of racers’ wrists.

I had confidence in the centre. I had done my research and the centre had great results – it carried out more than 500 similar operations in the last year. When you are having an operation that could make your life pain-free, or could cause more damage, you want to be sure.

Graham said he was reassured from the moment he walked in.

As well as everyone being positive and helpful they were very professional. They worked to keep me at my ease. One of the surgery team had a relative involved in racing in the North West, who I happened to know, so we were chatting about that as Mr Kefalas carried out the operation. The 30 minutes flew by.

Graham took his surgeon’s advice, working at his physiotherapy and caring properly for the scar, and his diligence paid off. Graham came back from the operation to win the over-50s Track and Trail enduro series to take the championship title.

It was wonderful. I felt like I had a new hand. I had pain in the left wrist too before the operation, as it was compensating for the right, but that went as the right was once again fully functioning.

The over-50s category is very competitive but I know people who have had to give up racing or even riding because of the pain and damage to their wrist. I would encourage anyone in the same position to do their research and find a centre, like the Southampton NHS Treatment Centre, that offers the treatment that will make them feel like new.

Mr Kefalas said:

Every week I see more than ten people suffering from this syndrome. The release of the nerve under local anaesthetic, when the syndrome is affecting a patient’s life, is the treatment of choice.

It is one of my favourite operations because people can see the results usually from the first night as many have not been able to sleep because of numbness and pain.

We discussed with Graham about the syndrome, the operation and the recovery and I was very confident that this procedure would resolve his problems – problems that were making the passion of his life more dangerous than it is and were affecting his quality of life.

I was delighted when he sent me a picture of him ‘flying’ with his bike and told me about his racing success.

I believe that doctors are not only the guardians of patients’ health and wellbeing, but that we also help people to make the best choices.

NHS patients can choose where they receive their treatment, and Southampton NHS Treatment Centre is part of that choice – simply speak to your GP and they can refer you. Hand and wrist surgery is one of the NHS treatments that Southampton NHS Treatment Centre specialise in, view our treatments here.