Non-surgical Procedure Can Offer Long-term Relief from Chronic Knee Pain

May 2019

The Cheyenne Regional Medical Group Medical Specialty Clinic is now offering a new non-surgical procedure to relieve chronic knee pain.

Called genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation, the procedure uses cooled radiofrequency energy to safely target the sensory nerves causing the pain.

Natalie Winter, MD, an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist with the Medical Specialty Clinic, says the procedure can provide significant relief from chronic knee pain that has failed to respond to other forms of conservative care. It is also appropriate for patients who want to avoid surgery or aren’t able to have surgery.

The first step is a diagnostic procedure, to determine if the patient is a good candidate for the ablation. A local anesthetic is injected into the genicular nerves to see if this blocks the pain. This procedure generally takes about 5 to 10 minutes. A response is considered positive if there is at least 50 percent reduction in pain within 24 hours of the injection. Patients with a positive response are considered good candidates for the radiofrequency ablation.

The ablation is performed with specialized needles that send cooled radiofrequency waves into the nerves around the knee. The area is numbed ahead of time using local anesthetic and is an outpatient procedure that takes about 40 minutes. It can take four to six weeks to know if the ablation worked.

“Recent studies show that up to 74 percent of patients who’ve undergone genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation have had at least six months of relief,” Dr. Winter said, “and 64 percent have had at least a year of benefit. In our clinic, we’ve had great success so far.”

For more information about this procedure or to request an appointment with Dr. Winter, please call the clinic at (307) 638-7757.