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New pain relief treatment available for chronic knee pain sufferers


New pain relief treatment available for chronic knee pain sufferers

If you’re struggling with chronic knee pain, a minimally invasive treatment now available in our area may provide long-lasting relief.
Cooled radiofrequency treatment uses radiofrequency energy to safely block pain signals sent by nerves to the brain. Patients can experience improved mobility and pain relief for up to 12 months.
Tidelands Health pain management physician Dr. Ryan Galica, who practices at Tidelands Health Pain Management Services at Georgetown, offers the treatment in our region. He says the treatment can provide significant and sustained relief without surgery, an implant or the use of opioid-based pain medications.
“It’s always preferable to help patients control their pain without the need for opioid-based pain medication,” Dr. Galica says. “My goal is to try to control people’s symptoms and prevent more invasive surgeries if possible.”

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Cooled radiofrequency treatment seeks to deactivate the nerves that transmit pain signals to the brain. A radiofrequency generator transmits a small current of energy through an insulated electrode or probe inserted into the target area. The energy thermally deactivates the nerves responsible for sending pain signals, Dr. Galica explains.
“We are basically short-circuiting the nerve so that it can’t send the pain signal anymore,” he adds. “We use cold water to slow down the heating process, which allows us to cover a larger area of the nerve and achieve longer relief from the pain.”

Innovative approach

Dr. Galica is using cooled radiofrequency treatment to treat patients with chronic knee pain, mostly caused by osteoarthritis. It is FDA approved for the relief of osteoarthritis knee pain, but the treatment has also been shown to benefit those who suffer with shoulder, hip and back pain.
Candidates for cooled radiofrequency treatment include:

  • Individuals not ready or eligible for surgery.
  • Individuals who’ve tried steroid injections without relief.
  • Individuals who’ve had knee replacement surgery but are still experiencing pain.

Unlike steroid injections, which target inflammation, cooled radiofrequency treatment targets pain-transmitting nerves.
Cooled radiofrequency treatment requires two appointments with a provider. During the first visit, the patient undergoes a diagnostic test that includes temporarily numbing the nerves.
“If the patient experiences good relief and the numbing takes away the pain, then they have a good chance of responding well to the procedure and can proceed to the second appointment,” Dr. Galica says.

No incision needed

The actual cooled radiofrequency treatment procedure is administered under local anesthesia during the second appointment at the provider’s office. Patients lie on their back for the treatment, which takes about 20-35 minutes. There is no incision, but needles are inserted at the location of the target nerves using X-ray guidance. Once in place, a probe that emits heat energy is placed through the needles to deactivate the nerves, ultimately blocking pain impulses.
Other than temporary soreness at the site that can be managed using over-the-counter pain medications, patients typically experience no pain after the procedure and can return home the same day. Full results may take up to six weeks, although most patients can resume normal activities within a day or two of having the procedure. The benefits of the procedure can extend for a full year.
“It can be repeated later on with no harmful side effects,” Dr. Galica says. “With cooled radiofrequency treatment, patients who are not surgical candidates or who want to avoid surgery can experience pain relief so they can use their knee and be more functional. It’s a great option for many people.”

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