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September 17, 2019

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Weekend doctor: Radiofrequency ablation

A new option for knee pain

By Thomas Kindl, MD
Blanchard Valley Pain Management
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a common interventional procedure, typically performed on the nerves in your spine. In the past few years, pain specialists have begun performing a modified version of this procedure on other joints like the knee.

An RFA on a knee can be an option for someone who is not a candidate for joint replacement, does not respond to other treatment such as pain medication, or wants to postpone surgery. It is also an option for geriatric patients that do not want to go through extensive recovery and rehabilitation.

RFA is a minimally invasive outpatient surgery and is typically used for pain from osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, or a previous injury. The physician uses x-ray guided needles that have a gentle electric current to “ablate” (or burn off) the nerves causing the pain.

Nerves can regenerate after about six months. This procedure provides control over pain long enough for rehabilitation.

Radiofrequency ablations can be a favorable option for those with debilitating joint pain because the recovery time is short, there is no incision and you can go to work the next day. Pain relief may last from nine months to two years. Talk to your physician to find out if you are a candidate for RFA.