A new, non-invasive knee procedure could bring some relief for patients suffering from debilitating chronic pain, for whom surgery is not an option.
The treatment, recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is called “cooled radio frequency ablation” and is a less drastic option for people with moderate to severe osteoarthritis pain who are not ready to have knee replacement surgery, or who have health conditions that don’t make them a good candidate for surgery.
Marketed as “Coolief”, the procedure uses radio frequency to target and mute the nerves responsible for sending pain signals from the arthritic knee to the brain. Coolief doesn’t repair arthritis in the knee, but eases the pain, helping patients go back to activities without discomfort and fewer medications.
“What we’re changing is the wiring of the knee — so we’re taking away the pain signal and interrupting it,” Dr. Amin Sandeep, a pain specialist at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago who performs the procedure, told NBC News.
One 2016 study compared Coolief to popular cortisone injections, with patients reporting greater, longer-lasting pain relief with the new treatment than injections. Coolief reduces pain for about to 6 to 12 months, depending on how fast the nerves in the knee regenerate.