Cooled Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment of knee pain

Chronic knee pain doesn’t have to be met with Surgery or medication. Radiofrequency ablation is a non-surgical procedure that involves the insertion of a needle-like probe into the skin. This probe delivers radiofrequency waves to target nerves that are causing you pain.

Radiofrequency Ablation Benefits:

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a safe and effective procedure with minimal recovery time. The results are typically long-lasting but can be permanent. RFA is especially beneficial to those seeking an alternative to surgery.

Minimally invasive

Surgery is not required for radiofrequency ablation. The procedure is completed in approximately 20 minutes, with sedation administered to the patient through an IV catheter. Unlike surgery RFA involves no incision. You may experience some discomfort at the radiofrequency site for a short period, but this discomfort can be treated with common over-the-counter medication.

Safe

RFA is considered a low-risk procedure. While some complications have been reported, most are temporary and can be resolved with little to no medical intervention. The most common side effects include hypersensitivity, numbness, burning, and tingling at the injection site.

Long-lasting results

Current studies are demonstrating up to 12 months pain relief and functional improvement specifically for knee pain and osteoarthritis.

When will I begin to feel pain relief?

You should begin to feel pain relief within one to two weeks. In some patients, the relief can be relatively long-lasting. In others, additional treatments may be required.

When can I return to normal activities?

Recommended rest will vary based on your unique needs. You can generally return to work and normal everyday activities within several days.

Radiofrequency Ablation Process

Surgical Anaesthesia

The anaesthetic technique administered to patients undergoing knee RF Ablation is a local anaesthesia.

Surgery

An intravenous (IV) catheter is placed into the patient’s arm before the procedure, through which the anaesthetic is administered. Some patients will also receive a mild sedative. Imaging technology is then used to identify the knee joint and affected area, the doctor will then insert a hollow needle into the area. A microelectrode placed inside the needle will transmit a pulsed radiofrequency current into the target cells. Afterwards, the electrode and needle are removed, and pressure is applied to the insertion point. The skin is covered with a dressing.

Post Surgery

After the procedure, the patient will receive post-procedural instructions. Most patients will be able to go home on the day of the procedure, but driving and strenuous activity should be avoided for 24 hours. Rest should be prioritised in the first 48-72 hours following RFA, and pain relief and icing can be used to resolve any post-procedural discomfort or pain.

Surgical Risks

Radiofrequency ablation is considered a safe, low-risk procedure. Like all procedures, it is associated with risks, which can include swelling, bruising, minor pain, and hypersensitivity of the skin at the injection site. Serious complications are rare, but can include:

  • Infection of the injection site
  • Damage to surrounding blood vessels and nerves, resulting in bleeding and nerve damage
  • Damage to surrounding muscle tissue
  • Allergic reaction to the anaesthetic used to numb the skin

Radiofrequency Ablation Recovery and Exercises

In the first few days following RFA, an ice pack may be used to numb the injection area and reduce swelling.It is best not to submerge the area in water, so showers are recommended over baths.

Pain relief can be used for 1-3 weeks after the procedure. Full recovery may take up to four weeks.

Sunshine Coast Orthopaedic Group has a team of health professionals with knowledge and expertise in radiofrequency ablation.

To find out more about RFA or to request a consultation, use our online enquiry form.

Radiofrequency Ablation FAQs

Is surgery required?

Surgery is not required for radiofrequency ablation. The procedure is completed in approximately 20 minutes, with sedation administered to the patient through an IV catheter. Unlike surgery RFA involves no incision.

Is RFA Safe?

RFA is considered a low-risk procedure. While some complications have been reported, most are temporary and can be resolved with little to no medical intervention. 

Long-lasting results

Current studies are demonstrating up to 12 months of pain relief and functional improvement specifically for knee pain and osteoarthritis.

When will I begin to feel pain relief?

You should begin to feel pain relief within one to two weeks. In some patients, the relief can be relatively long-lasting. In others, additional treatments may be required.

When can I return to normal activities?

Recommended rest will vary based on your unique needs. You can generally return to work and normal everyday activities within several days.

Does radiofrequency ablation hurt?

Pain is a common side effect of radiofrequency ablation, both during the procedure and in the following 1-2 weeks. Most patients describe this pain as mild, and are able to gain relief with a combination of over-the-counter medication and icing.

What are the risks and side effects of radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation has few associated risks, but may include numbness, swelling, bruising, and/or hypersensitivity at the injection site. These symptoms may last for up to two weeks post-procedure.

Who performs radiofrequency ablation?

RFA will be performed by your orthopaedic specialist and supported by their nursing team.

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