A cutting-edge procedure to relieve chronic knee pain in Lakeland, Florida

Genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation (GNRFA) is a cutting-edge procedure to relieve chronic knee pain. This minimally invasive procedure is an advancement in pain management that targets the genicular nerves, which transmit pain signals from the knee joint to the brain.

The procedure can effectively disrupt pain signals, allowing patients to decrease knee discomfort and potentially avoid the need for more invasive surgical interventions.

In This Article:

Growing Popularity of Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation for Knee Pain

Over recent years, GNRFA has seen a surge in popularity for individuals seeking an alternative to traditional knee surgery. GNRFA can be a pain management option for patients with knee osteoarthritis who have not found sufficient relief from pain medicine, desire an alternative to opioid use, or want to avoid knee reconstruction or replacement (arthroplasty).

The promising outcomes of genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation are significant, considering the limitations of other interventions, such as injections, in managing knee osteoarthritis effectively. The procedure offers improved outcomes for patients who wish to maintain an active lifestyle without being held back by knee pain.

Conditions Treated Using Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation

Genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation is a specific way to manage knee pain, primarily chronic osteoarthritis knee pain. Additionally, it aids those recovering from knee surgery by mitigating post-operative discomfort. It’s also effective against persistent pain that might linger after knee replacement or in cases where surgery isn’t a viable option. People with traumatic knee injuries or degenerative joint diseases often find this treatment significantly reduces pain and improves joint function.

Delving into the Procedure

Genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation is performed using fluoroscopy guidance (a type of imaging) to ensure accurate needle placement around the genicular nerves. The technique has several advantages that make it an attractive option for those seeking relief from knee pain.

  • It’s an outpatient procedure, allowing patients to return home the same day.
  • Generally, it’s less costly compared to traditional knee surgery.
  • It’s usually performed under local anesthesia, minimizing the risks of general anesthesia.
  • Post-operative pain is typically minimal, making the recovery process quicker and more comfortable.
  • The patient can typically resume daily activities much sooner than with traditional surgery.

The outcomes of this technique are promising, but individual results will vary, and the procedure may not be suitable for everyone.

Preparing for the Procedure

Patients typically undergo a thorough consultation to plan the best action before undergoing genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation. During this consultation, patients explore chronic pain medicine options and discuss the specific nature of their pain. The doctor will review the patient’s medical history, including any previous treatments for persistent knee pain, and assess whether they’ve experienced relief from less invasive interventions.

Indications for this procedure often include persistent pain due to symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, unsuccessful knee surgery, or in cases where conservative treatments haven’t provided adequate relief. Given the complexity of knee pain in patients with lesser degrees of osteoarthritis, the pain doctor must establish if genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation is suitable.

Ideal candidates for the procedure are those who might not be candidates for surgery like total knee reconstruction or replacement or who prefer a less invasive option.

Common Concerns with Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation

While genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation is generally considered safe, some common concerns patients might have include:

  • Discomfort during the procedure.
  • Infection.
  • Bleeding.
  • Skin irritation at the site of the ablation.

Though occurrences are uncommon, it’s normal for patients to experience mild swelling or bruising. The procedure is performed under sterile conditions to minimize infection risk, and any discomfort during the process is typically managed with local anesthesia and mild sedation.

Post-Ablation Care and Recovery

After undergoing genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation, expect to stay in a recovery area for approximately an hour as sedation effects subside. There may be some soreness or mild spasms at the injection site. These symptoms are typical and manageable with prescription medications. Most patients start noticing satisfactory pain relief in a few days to weeks. Depending on the patient, the relief can last anywhere from six months to over a year.

Patients are instructed to take it easy for the rest of the day following the procedure. Normal activities can usually be resumed the next day. Still, some tenderness or temporary aggravated symptoms might occur as the anesthetic wears off. These symptoms can be soothed with the help of an ice pack. Some patients report leg numbness after the procedure, which is common and should resolve rapidly.

Tips for Ensuring a Smooth Recovery

For a smooth recovery after genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation, keep these tips in mind:

  • Rest on the day of your procedure, gradually increasing activity as your doctor advises.
  • Apply ice packs to the treated area to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Take any prescribed medications or over-the-counter pain relievers as directed by your doctor.
  • If your doctor approves, engage in physical therapy or gentle exercises to maintain joint mobility and strength.

Following these recommendations can enhance your healing process and contribute to the overall success of the treatment.

FAQs

What is genicular neurotomy?

Genicular neurotomy is another name for genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation. The procedure aims to reduce knee pain by disrupting the transmission of pain signals along the genicular nerves. It involves careful needle and electrode placement within the knee joint, targeting the genicular nerves responsible for transmitting pain.

This treatment can be particularly effective for patients with osteoarthritis. It provides an alternative to more invasive knee surgery while offering substantial and sustainable pain relief.

What are the main benefits of genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation?

The main benefits of genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation include:

  • Significant reduction in knee pain to help enhance quality of life.
  • Increased mobility and improved knee function.
  • It is minimally invasive with fewer risks compared to traditional knee surgery.
  • Swift recovery and a quick return to daily activities.
  • Potential to delay or avoid the need for knee replacement surgery.

These advantages make genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation a compelling option for managing chronic knee pain, especially when other treatments have failed to yield satisfactory results.

Who are the ideal candidates for genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation?

Ideal candidates for the procedure are generally those who have:

  • Chronic knee pain due to osteoarthritis or other degenerative joint conditions.
  • Failed to respond well to conservative treatments like pain medication, physical therapy, or injections.
  • No significant improvement in pain following knee replacement surgery or wish to avoid surgery altogether.
  • A positive response to a diagnostic nerve block indicating treating the genicular nerves could relieve pain.
  • Good overall health with an understanding of the procedure and realistic expectations of its results.

If these criteria align with your situation, you may want to consider genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation as a potential treatment.

What is the success rate of knee nerve ablation?

The success rate of nerve ablation in the knee, specifically genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation, is quite favorable. Approximately half of the patients report significant pain relief, with a success rate often cited between 50% and 70%.

Clinical studies suggest that a large percentage of individuals experience at least a 50% reduction in pain for up to a year or more post-procedure. However, success rates can vary based on individual health factors, the severity of knee issues, and adherence to post-procedure care guidelines.

How quickly will I get relief?

After genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation, relief typically begins within a few days to weeks as the treated nerves become inactive. Most patients start to notice a decrease in pain intensity during this period. Full benefits from the ablation might take longer to manifest as the body adjusts to the changes in nerve signaling.

How long do the effects of genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation last?

The pain relief effects of genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation can last 6 months to several years. The average duration is typically around one year, but individual experiences may vary. Factors such as the severity of knee deterioration and overall health can influence the longevity of the results. Some patients may opt for repeat procedures to maintain pain relief once the effects diminish.

Can the procedure be repeated?

Yes, genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation can be repeated if necessary. If the pain relief diminishes over time, which is possible as nerves can regenerate, the procedure can be performed again to maintain pain relief.

Many patients find that subsequent treatments are as effective in managing knee pain as the initial procedure. However, it’s essential to consult with a pain doctor to discuss the timing and frequency of repeat procedures.

Conclusion

Genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation stands out as a valuable and effective option for those struggling with chronic knee pain, especially when traditional treatments have failed. Targeting the nerves responsible for pain signals in the knee offers long-lasting relief, improved mobility, and the possibility of a more active and comfortable lifestyle.

The procedure is a testament to the advances in minimally invasive pain management techniques and a hopeful choice for many knee pain patients. If you’re considering this procedure, consulting with a pain doctor will help you understand if it’s the right step for you and your unique health needs.

Novus Spine & Pain Center

Novus Spine & Pain Center is in Lakeland, Florida, and treats patients with chronic pain with numerous therapies, including genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation. By using a comprehensive approach and cutting-edge therapies, we work together with patients to restore function and regain an active lifestyle while minimizing the need for opiates.

For your convenience, you may schedule an appointment online, request a call back, or call our office at 863-583-4445.

Resources

Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation for Painful Knee Arthritis (PubMed)
How I Do It: Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation (ASRA Pain Medicine)
Technical considerations for genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation (Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine)
Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation for the Treatment of Painful Knee Osteoarthritis (PubMed)
Genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation for the treatment of chronic knee joint pain (Oxford University Press)
Genicular Neurotomy (Texas Spine Physicians)
The safety and efficacy of genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation for pain in inferolateral quadrant of the knee (ScienceDirect)
Genicular Nerve Ablation (Twin Cities Pain Clinic)
Radiofrequency Ablation for the Knee Joint (Dove Medical Press)
Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation for the Treatment of Painful Knee Osteoarthritis (Oxford University Press)