Advance with MUSC Health

Halo Chef Returns to Rolling Pretzel Dough After Carpal Tunnel Surgery

Advance With MUSC Health
June 21, 2022
Chef Geoff Chewning and Dr. M. Lance Tavana standing next to one another in front of Halo bakery entrance.

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 also conveniently located directly across from the “Horseshoe,” the main entrance at MUSC, so Dr. Tavana and his team were already familiar faces too.

After a clinical consultation by Dr. Tavana and a nerve conduction study, it was clear that the 35-year-old 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 to 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.

Chef Geoff Chewning making pretzels in kitchen at Halo 
Chef Geoff Chewning making pretzels in the kitchen at Halo.

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,” continued Geoff. “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, that I even shared my pickle recipe with him."

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

Learn more about carpal tunnel surgery at MUSC Health