People with chronic knee pain now have new treatment option at Tidelands Health

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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on February 08, 2022

People with chronic knee pain now have new treatment option at Tidelands Health

People suffering with chronic knee pain now have a new, minimally invasive treatment option at Tidelands Health.

Cooled radiofrequency treatment blocks pain signals sent by nerves to the brain. Patients can experience improved mobility and pain relief for up to 12 months.

logo - Tidelands Health with MUSC HealthTidelands Health pain management physician Dr. Ryan Galica, who practices at Tidelands Health Pain Management Services at Georgetown, said the treatment can provide significant and sustained relief without surgery, an implant or the use of opioid-based pain medications.

“It’s always preferable to help patients control their pain without the need for opioid-based pain medication,” Dr. Galica said. “My goal is to try to control people’s symptoms and prevent more invasive surgeries if possible.”

Cooled radiofrequency treatment seeks to deactivate the nerves that transmit pain signals to the brain. A radiofrequency generator transmits a small current of energy through an insulated electrode or probe inserted into the target area. The energy thermally deactivates the nerves responsible for sending pain signals.

“We are basically short-circuiting the nerve so that it can’t send the pain signal anymore,” Dr. Galica said. “We use cold water to slow down the heating process, which allows us to cover a larger area of the nerve and achieve longer relief from the pain.”

The treatment is FDA-approved for the relief of osteoarthritis knee pain, but the treatment has also been shown to benefit those who suffer with shoulder, hip and back pain. Dr. Galica is using the treatment for patients with chronic knee pain, mostly caused by osteoarthritis.

Cooled radiofrequency treatment is ideal for patients who are not ready or eligible for surgery, those who have tried steroid injections but didn’t get relief and those who have had knee replacement surgery but are still experiencing pain.

Unlike steroid injections, which target inflammation, cooled radiofrequency treatment targets pain-transmitting nerves.

The actual procedure is administered under local anesthesia at the provider’s office. Patients typically experience no pain after the procedure and can return home the same day.  The benefits of the procedure can extend for a full year.

“It can be repeated with no harmful side effects,” Dr. Galica said. “Patients who are not surgical candidates or who want to avoid surgery can experience pain relief so they can use their knee and be more functional.  It’s a great option for many people.”

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Tidelands Health is the region’s largest health care provider and MUSC Health affiliate, serving the Carolinas at four hospitals and more than 70 outpatient locations. More than 2,500 employee, physician and volunteer partners work side by side with our communities to transform the health of our region – promoting wellness, preventing illness, encouraging recovery and restoring health.