Radiofrequency Ablation & Knee Nerve Blocks
April 05, 2021

Arthritis is a prevalent body joint ailment in people. This condition usually affects the knee joints. When the knee joint is disrupted, doctors try to treat it through non-surgical methods. The most common techniques include knee nerve block or radiofrequency ablation. If these methods fail, a knee replacement surgery is recommended.

Our sensory receptors detect pain, and destroying these nerves is a practical approach to relieving pain. This approach is used in the radiofrequency ablation (RFA) process, which has been used for years to treat dorsalgia. With technology advancement, it is now used for knee pain also.

Previously, the nerve and other constructions in the knee make the conventional RFA less effective for the knee than the spine. The new technology has made it more effective and affordable.

Is RFA Suitable for Treating Knee Osteoarthritis Condition?

Radiofrequency Ablation is based on the theory that blocking sensory nerves can alleviate pain and re-establish functionality. You should know that the knee joint is supplied by articular branches of many nerves, including tibial, saphenous, femoral, common peroneal, and obturator nerves.

If traditional treatments for chondrosis have failed, then RFA is suitable for treating the condition. Experts usually recommend losing weight, physical therapies, knee support, or pain killers to cure the condition. Sometimes, corticosteroid and hyaluronic acid injections are also used to heal the condition.

If the pain and weakened function continue, a knee replacement is recommended. A few people cannot undergo surgery due to risks caused due to underlying medical conditions. Surgery may be preferred for young and fit people.

The RFA Process

RFA is a two-step procedure of knee nerve block that begins with a diagnostic process. The first is the diagnostic step. The nerve is located using fluoroscopy guidance of ultrasound or x-ray to insert the needle. Genicular nerve block occurs when an anesthetic drug (in small quantity) is injected into the located area. Doctors may usually inject one to two ml of lidocaine or bupivacaine in the superior lateral (SL), superior medial (SM), and inferior medial (IM) nerves. This procedure usually takes five to ten minutes.

After the area is numb, the radiofrequency current is moved through the hollow needle to create a lesion. The lesion is a specific burn whose size measures equal to a cotton swab. The current makes the nerves dead and destroys the pain-generating signals. This burning takes one or two minutes for each area. It can burn many nerves simultaneously.

The ablation is a diagnostic process, except that the needle is hooked up to a radiofrequency generator. The nerves are heated to the extent that they die.

After that, the person is asked to perform any physical activity that is hard to perform. It indicates how much pain has been relieved. If pain has been relieved around 50%, ablation is recommended. Facts show that people experience pain relief within 24 hours of the treatment.

Step Two

The radiofrequency ablation of genicular nerves is recommended to patients who positively respond. It ensures a more sustained response. Patients must know that the procedure may vary in every individual, and they might not get the desired outcomes.

Treated patients must be aware that this healing process will provide temporary relief. It means the procedure needs to be repeated when required.

After the diagnostic injection, doctors wait for the patient’s response. The ones who have satisfactory pain relief are chosen for radiofrequency denervation treatment. The process involves a heat slash around the genicular nerves that carry pain impulses from the knee to the brain. If the treatment is successful, patients can enjoy pain relief for months. The treatment is performed under local sedation and can take up to four to six weeks to show results.

Pain Relief

The area remains sore for a few weeks, but most people get more relief than uneasiness. In rare cases, bleeding and infection can also occur. The pain relief from this method persists from six months to 2 years. The reason is that the nerves grow back. The Radiofrequency Ablation procedure can be repeated as required.

Symptoms of Genicular Nerve Blocking

Some apparent symptoms indicate that RFA therapy is the best recommendation. People who suffer from chronic pain behind knee secondary to arthritis or patients have undergone an unsuccessful knee replacement. Other individuals include people suffering from underlying health conditions that make them unfit for knee replacement surgery. People who are not ready for surgery.

Genicular Nerve Complications

Genicular nerve block complications are not expected. Doctors use a precise needle-positioning technique to give injections.

Doctors can prevent septic arthritis through suitable aseptic precautions. Apart from this, severe allergic reactions to local anesthetics are unusual. People might suffer post-procedural pain flashes. It is successfully treated with pain-relieving medication.

Some of the common post-procedural complications include paresthesia and numbness. But the frequency is rare. Undergoing radiofrequency can cause sparse numbness of the covering skin.

If a qualified doctor has performed the treatment, then the chances of infections are also low. The reason is that the procedure is performed under strict aseptic conditions, and the injections are inserted into the joints.


RFA is an effective treatment as it helps diminish case cost, enhance work status and lessen pain in patients who suffer from chronic knee joint pain.

Premier Pain Centers

If you are suffering from knee pain, Premier Pain Centers provides the best surgical and non-surgical treatments to the US. Our reputable one-stop pain relief center and qualified physicians can effectively help you in managing chronic pain issues. We aim to improve the quality of life through excellent medical management, state-of-the-art interventional pain processes, along with physical therapy and exercises.

Catogries: Blog | Knee Pain

Related Posts