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Cooled Radiofrequency Ablation for Mild-Moderate Osteoarthritis

Written and reviewed by
MD,DNB, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Fellowship In Pain Management
Pain Management Specialist, Mumbai  •  22 years experience
Cooled Radiofrequency Ablation for Mild-Moderate Osteoarthritis

Cooled Radiofrequency Ablation is a process which involves minimum incision, along with a non-narcotic out-patient treatment option that can help treat and provide relief from chronic pain, thereby improve one’s quality of life without the need to go for a surgery. This is an advanced procedure, through which the cooled radiofrequency energy is used in order to target the sensory nerves quickly as well as quite safely, which result in pain and help shut out the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

Osteoarthritis can hamper any joint whenever the cartilage wears out over a period of time. This generally strikes big joints like the knee, resulting in pain, swelling and the area becoming stiff, which results in the movements getting restricted. According to the data released by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons close to 10 million Americans had to suffer from osteoarthritis of their knee in the year 2010.

Cooled Radiofrequency can also help treat various other conditions which include:

  1. Cervical Joint Pain
  2. Genicular Neurotomy
  3. Lumbar Pain
  4. Hip Osteoarthritis or Joint Pain
  5. Chronic Knee Osteoarthritis.

Cooled Radiofrequency Ablasion is marketed as COOLIEF. COOLIEF is a minimally-invasive procedure, quite often compared to steroid injections. Still, patients tend to report better relief from pain, functionality of the area when the procedure was implemented and satisfaction, which is not the case with injections.

As per a study by FDA, six months after the procedure has taken place, a mere 5% of the patients of the COOLIEF group reported the same kind of severe pain compared to 37% of patients, who get treated with steroid injections.

While there are patients who experience relief from pain in the knee due to Osteoarthritis for close to 2 years, for some, there is no recurrence of pain at all in future.

How Does It Work?

The procedure followed for treating mild to moderate Osteoarthritis is quite similar to the traditional radiofrequency treatments. Still, unlike traditional procedures related to Radiofrequency, COOLIEF makes use of cooled radiofrequency energy for targeting the nerves in a more safe and secured manner. The overall heat produced is much less in this case, which helps to increase the effectiveness through relief from pain.

Now before initiating the procedure of COOLIEF, the concerned doctor conducts a diagnostic procedure which aims to locate the exact source of one’s pain and hence tells the doctor where the COOLIEF must go. The doctor would then use a particular device along with a small needle to reach out to the nerves which are causing pain. This device helps to generate radiofrequency, which uses the energy to get the nerves heated. As the device sends heat waves into the nerves, water also gets circulated through the area. This induces two things:Without any additional effort, a large treatment is created. Targets the source of pain without even going for excessive heating.

The procedure takes less than an hour and does not even require general anesthesia. The pain can continue for close to 2 weeks but still, patients can return to their normal activities after taking a day’s rest.

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