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Halo Chef Returns to Rolling Pretzel Dough After Carpal Tunnel Surgery

Geoff Chewning and Dr. Tavana
Geoff Chewning shares some of his famous pretzel rolls with Dr. Tavana

Since opening his downtown Charleston restaurant in 2010, Halo owner and chef Geoff Chewning has rolled more than 100,000 of his famous pretzel rolls by hand. He also managed to develop carpal tunnel syndrome in the process.

By 2015, the pain and numbness in his hands had become too challenging for Geoff to complete day-to-day tasks. His hands would just ache and hurt. He knew it was time to consult a hand specialist to preserve his quality of life and passion for cooking.

So, Geoff turned to MUSC Health’s Dr. M. Lance Tavana for help, a specialist in hand and upper extremity surgery in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Geoff’s restaurant, Halo, is located directly across from the “Horseshoe,” the main entrance at MUSC, so Dr. Tavana and his team were already familiar faces.

After a clinical consultation with Dr. Tavana and a nerve conduction study, it was clear that the 35-year-old chef needed surgery on both hands. So on the Friday before Thanksgiving in 2015, Dr. Tavana performed minimally invasive endoscopic carpal tunnel surgery on one of Geoff’s hands, and Geoff was back at work the next week.

“It’s a low-risk surgery with a quick return to activity,” said Dr. Tavana. “There is no need to be scared of surgery if you have carpal tunnel syndrome, especially when the condition has the potential for significant harm and disability later in life. With the advances in minimally invasive surgery, we are able get patients back to daily life very soon after surgery.”

And that was certainly the case with Geoff.

By Thanksgiving, Geoff was back in the kitchen cooking a meal for 50, which included MUSC students, faculty and staff who could not celebrate the holiday with family. In January, Geoff had surgery on his other hand and recovered just as quickly.

“It’s unique to know your doctor so well,” he said. “A week after my surgery, Dr. Tavana walked into Halo and asked me how I was doing. I couldn’t be happier with the way that it was done. I even shared my pickle recipe with him.”

Flattered, Dr. Tavana joked that the he had to pare the secret pickle recipe down from 40 lbs. to 10 lbs.

Two years after his surgery, Geoff is hard at work in the kitchen, continuing to make those savory pretzel rolls. He’s also added tossing pizza dough to his repertoire. In late 2017, Geoff will open his second downtown restaurant – named “Nimbo” (that’s Halo in Italian) – which will serve up pizzas ideal for group dining, as well as personal style.

Also, this September, Geoff and his wife welcomed a baby to the family, so he’s definitely got his hands full. Congrats to the Chewning family on your new addition and thank you for letting us share your story!

To learn more about carpal tunnel surgery at MUSC Health, visit Hand, Wrist & Microvascular Surgery at MUSC Health.