A minimally invasive, office-based treatment for chronic knee pain from arthritis.
Osteoarthritis of the knee is one of the most disabling conditions in the world. It is present in about 20-30% of the elderly population (over 65-years-old). With the aging of the population and the increasing number of people working longer, this is expected to increase. Also, most individuals are more active now than ever. The pain of arthritis is long-term and can render one unable to do even basic daily activities.
There are many non-operative treatments available for chronic knee pain from arthritis. These treatments range from braces to hyaluronic acid injections. However, many physicians recommend a replacement of the natural knee with a metal and plastic one when other treatments don’t work.
Many people do not want to undergo the trauma and expense of a total knee replacement. Some people are not healthy enough to undergo such a surgery. Some individuals wish to delay such a surgery for any number of reasons.
Also, 20-30% of patients still have pain and disability even after having a total knee replacement.
There is a way to treat the pain without replacing the knee joint. By blocking the sensory nerves that provide the pain signal from the knee to the brain, the pain can be treated. First, the nerves must undergo a temporary block to see if the pain relief is adequate. Then, a minor procedure is completed that prevents the nerves from working to create a pain signal. The pain is effectively gone. This has been shown to provide a significant amount of pain relief in a number of scientific studies. While there is no cure for arthritis, there is a potential treatment for the pain of arthritis of the knee.
The nerve block is done in the clinic. An area around the kneecap undergoes a series of injections with a medication that numbs the nerves. If this proves to provide enough relief, the next stage of treatment occurs.
The patient with the painful arthritic knee is mildly sedated, and numbing medication is injected into the area to provide relief during the procedure. Specialized cannulas and probes are placed around the kneecap in key positions. Each probe is inserted under the skin into an area known to have a sensory nerve. Once positioned, the probes area activated and render the nerves ineffective. The probes utilize radio frequency to produce a minimally invasive heat source that essentially burns the nerve. The surrounding tissue has minimal to no damage due to the design of the probe and the procedural technique.