There is never a dull moment for Patricia Vaughan, 68, of Oak Lawn. One day a week she works as a nurse. She spends the rest of her week transporting her eight grandchildren around town or playing golf and pickleball. In January 2023, chronic hip pain began to slow her down.

“On top of it all, I was planning a trip to Greece and my goal was to climb the Acropolis. I knew I had until the end of April to get rid of the pain in my hip and cancel my trip if needed,” she said.

Despite resting, physical therapy, and a cortisone injection, Vaughan's discomfort didn't go away. Medical professionals gave her mixed diagnoses after she sought multiple opinions.

“I was told I had torn tendons and the only way to repair them was surgery that would require hospitalization, six weeks on crutches and six to nine months of rehab,” she added.

Vaughan mentioned her pain to her daughter who works as a physician. Her daughter connected her with Rajiv Verma, DO, sports medicine physician with Endeavor Health.

“Another physician told my daughter about Dr. Verma and a minimally-invasive procedure called TENEX,” Vaughan said.

Doing what most people do, Vaughan used Google to learn more about TENEX before meeting with Dr. Verma.

“I read that it required two weeks on crutches as opposed to six weeks. It also said recovery time was three months,” she said. “That sounded good to me.”

Alternative option for open surgery

Dr. Verma advised Vaughan that ultrasound-guided percutaneous needle tenotomy (TENEX) would be an excellent course of treatment for her as the procedure gently breaks down damaged, pain-producing tissue and allows healthy tendon tissue to heal in its place.

“Tendinopathy is a chronic degenerative change of the tendons. Typically it’s an overuse injury and it can be quite painful. It’s not inflammation, but it’s wear and tear on the tendons,” Dr. Verma said.

“In Patricia’s case, she injured her hip while she was playing pickleball. After the injury, her symptoms set in and became chronic,” he added.

Also used for tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, plantar fasciitis and achilles tendonitis, TENEX typically takes minutes to perform. Compared to traditional open surgery, TENEX provides less discomfort, typically no stitches and results in a faster return to activity.

Dr. Verma told me I wouldn’t need an IV sedation. He also said I probably wouldn’t be on crutches even for a week, which sounded like a much better alternative than having open surgery,
said Vaughan.

Surgery and recovery

Three months before her trip to Greece, Vaughan had the TENEX procedure. Her recovery was seamless. After being on crutches for four days, she had six weeks of physical therapy to strengthen her body. Within two months of surgery, she was back on the golf course, relying on her hip to perfect her swing.

Climbing the Acropolis

In fall 2023, Vaughan took her bucket list trip to Greece. Walking on uneven surfaces during the hour-long hike up the Acropolis put her hip to the test. She felt great the entire time.

“I was going to do it no matter what,” she said.

Vaughan is looking forward to returning to pickleball — her favorite winter sport.

“I’m able to work as a nurse, keep up with my grandchildren, golf and travel. I’m very fortunate I researched my options and found Dr. Verma,” Vaughan said.