Radiofrequency Treatment: RFA is a safe, proven means of interrupting pain signals, such as those coming from irritated genicular nerves in the knee. Radiofrequency current is used to heat up a small volume of nerve tissue, thereby interrupting pain signals from that specific area. Clinical data shows that radiofrequency treatment can effectively provide lasting pain relief.
Radiofrequency treatment should not be considered for patients taking anticoagulants, for patients with local infections, for patients with serious psychological problems, for patients with allergies to local anesthetics or for patients who are pregnant.
During the Procedure: A doctor in a treatment room setting performs a radiofrequency nerve ablation procedure. Both local anesthesia and mild sedative may be used to reduce discomfort during the procedure.
During the procedure, you will be lying on your back with a pillow under your leg. Your doctor will insert several small needles into your knee. Using X-ray imaging, the doctor will guide the needles to the treatment locations near the joint. Electrodes are inserted through the needles to stimulate nearby sensory and motor nerves. During stimulation, your doctor will ask if you are able to feel a tingling sensation. The object of stimulation is to determine the optimal treatment locations for pain relief.
Once the needle and electrode placement is verified, a small RF current will travel through the electrodes into the surrounding tissue, causing the tissue to heat, eliminating the pain pathways. You should alert your doctor if, at any time during the procedure, you experience any discomfort. Your doctor will treat more than one location during the same procedure to minimize treatment time.
You may experience some soft tissue discomfort at the needle placement site following the procedure. Like other soft tissue wounds, the discomfort should subside over several days or weeks. If there are no complications, the procedure can usually be done on an outpatient basis.
Your knee pain should subside over the next several weeks. Radiofrequency treatment of nerves usually blocks pain signals for a prolonged period of time. The procedure can be repeated if the nerves regenerate and your pain returns.
Radiofrequency treatment should not limit your daily activities. You should be able to resume your normal activities, including work. Physical restrictions you had prior to the procedure may still remain. As with any medical procedure, however minor, there are certain risks involved. Please ask your doctor for details regarding the potential risks with radiofrequency treatment.