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Radiofrequency Ablation of the Knee

RFA of the knee

A radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a type of injection procedure in which a heat lesion is created on certain nerves with the goal of interrupting the pain signals to the brain, thus eliminating the pain from a given body part. Although this technology has been successfully used to treat spinal pain in the past, Novocur is one of the first pain centers in the nation to be offering this technology to treat chronic knee pain! This Novocur service is payable by most insurance companies.

Candidates for this procedure may suffer with moderate to severe degenerative or osteoarthritis of the knee. Perhaps they have already tried injectable procedures with steroids or other treatments, such as Synvisc, to try and lubricate the joint – however these treatements are often unsuccessful. Perhaps an orthopedic knee doctor has told you “You need knee replacement surgery”, but you are too young or don’t want to go through the surgery and recovery. Even those who have already had total knee replacements, yet still have pain are candidates for Novocur’s Knee treatment.

What to Expect?

Once we determine that you are a proper candidate for the procedure we will perform a “test nerve block” to make sure the RFA procedure is likely to give you relief. The doctor will inject a short acting local anesthetic around three of the genicular (knee) nerves that provide your brain with pain signals from the knee. A short period of pain relief following this “test nerve block” gives Novocur a good indication you will likely get good relief from an RFA procedure on the knee.

A successful “test nerve block” will then lead to the actual treatment – Knee RFA! The procedure itself takes only 90 seconds. Three specialized needles will be placed around the knee near the target nerves that are producing your pain. This needle placement is performed under video fluoroscopy, which is a special type of x-ray, to assure proper positioning. The tip of the needle, located adjacent to the nerve, is heated, using radiofrequency energy, to 80 degrees Celsius for 90 seconds. The purpose of heating the nerves is to alter their normal function. After being heated, the nerves cannot relay the pain signals from your knee to your brain – your brain is effectively “blind” to the pain now.

How Long Will it Last?

The heated nerves will eventually recover from the radiofrequency heat lesion that was created during the treatment and begin functioning properly again, but patients will generally experience anywhere from 6-18 months of good pain relief before that happens. Once the pain returns, you may return to Novocur for another 90 second Novocur Knee procedure.