Osteoarthritis Pain Management Clinics
Osteoarthritis (OA) happens when the cartilage breaks down. This tissue protects the bones and allows them to move without friction. But when it gets damaged, bones start rubbing together, causing joint pain. This chronic condition is common among older people but can occur in adults of any age. We can help you ease OA symptoms in our pain management clinics.
Osteoarthritis is very common. It can affect any joint, but it’s more common on the hands, hips, and knees.
Pain, stiffness, swelling, weakness, reduced range of motion. The pain usually gets worse after long activity periods.
Age and gender matter
The risk of developing OA increases after 50. It affects women more than men. Being overweight is another risk factor.
What Causes OA?
Although no gene has been found as the cause, there is a higher risk of developing OA if your parents, siblings, or other family members have this condition.
Being overweight adds more stress to the joints, accelerating cartilage damage. Besides, fat cells produce proteins that can cause inflammation.
Repetitive movements, like the ones related to sports or certain jobs, increase the risk of developing OA. Sports also increase the chance of having joint injuries.
Treating Osteoarthritis with RFA
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a procedure that “burns” the nerves that send pain signals to the brain. Our doctors usually recommend this procedure when other treatments haven’t worked. This procedure doesn’t treat joint damage but focuses on providing pain relief. Your treatment plan may include this and other treatments, like physical therapy and pain medication.
Remember that pain therapies depend on each patient’s diagnosis. We can help you find the right osteoarthritis treatment for you at Premier Pain Management Clinics.
Facts about Radiofrequency Ablation
This is a same-day minimally invasive procedure using a local anesthetic. It is performed at a doctor’s office.
The effects of RFA usually last for six months to a year, depending on the patient. In some cases, pain relief can last for years.
Types of joints
We can use RFA to treat pain in both large and small joints. The treatment is effective for relieving arthritis symptoms anywhere in the body.
FAQ About Radiofrequency Ablation for OA
How can I tell if I have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis?
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can be difficult to differentiate since they have similar symptoms. But RA is an autoimmune condition-product of the malfunctioning of the immune system-, while OA is degenerative, which means it develops gradually with the use of the joints.
One way you can tell what type of arthritis you have is by noticing if the pain appears symmetrically. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects both sides of the body with the same intensity. With OA, you could experience pain on both sides, but one side could feel worse than the other.
If you’re not sure about what kind of arthritis you have, talk to a doctor so they can prescribe the best treatment for your case.
Which joints does osteoarthritis affect?
The joints that osteoarthritis affects most commonly are:
- Knees. One of the most frequent kinds of osteoarthritis. Symptoms include difficulty walking and getting up after sitting, pain, swelling, and stiffness.
- Hands. This type of arthritis is more common in women than in men, especially after menopause. It is also frequently seen among families.
- Feet and ankles. Patients with foot OA may hear noises when they move their feet. You may also feel pain and weakness.
- Spine. This type of OA produces pain and stiffness in the back or neck.
- Neck. We also know this form of osteoarthritis as cervical OA or cervical spondylosis. It produces pain, stiffness, headaches, and difficulty to move.
- Hips. Symptoms include pain and stiffness. You may feel these in your hips, but also your groin, thighs, or buttocks. Patients with hip OA experience difficulty bending.
- Shoulders. It’s common for people with shoulder arthritis to feel pain while moving the shoulder. Even while sleeping, they may experience pain. Additionally, they might have limited mobility.
Can radiofrequency ablation help me avoid surgery?
In general, patients with OA treat their symptoms with traditional therapies, such as medication and physical therapy. If these options don’t work, the next step is usually joint replacement surgery.
Radiofrequency ablation is a non-surgical alternative in these cases, especially for patients who can’t undergo surgery for medical reasons. However, it’s important to remember that RFA is a temporary solution, as nerves can regenerate over time. The effects of this procedure usually last for about a year. In some cases, even two.
Nevertheless, OA can aggravate despite treatment. If your pain keeps getting worse, you may have to consider joint replacement surgery.
Who is a suitable candidate for radiofrequency ablation?
Usually, doctors recommend RFA to patients who haven’t found pain relief in traditional treatments, such as medications and physical therapy. You may also be a good candidate if you can’t have joint replacement surgery, or if you wish to avoid it.
Most patients are eligible for a radiofrequency ablation procedure.
Nevertheless, some factors may not qualify you to have this procedure:
- Being pregnant
- Having an infection
- Having bleeding problems
If you have any of these conditions, let your doctor know.
What types of arthritis can you treat with radiofrequency ablation?
We can use RFA to treat arthritis in both large joints (such as the knee) or small joints (like the hands).
For some types of arthritis, research has shown that radiofrequency ablation is even more effective in reducing both pain and inflammation than other treatments.
Can I repeat the RFA procedure to treat OA?
RFA is a safe and effective procedure for osteoarthritis management.
You can repeat this procedure as many times as you need. Remember, you should also discuss with your doctor how many radiofrequency ablations you should have depending on your specific case.
We usually recommend continuing other therapies, such as physical therapy. In our pain clinic, your osteoarthritis doctor will design a comprehensive treatment plan for your needs.
What is cooled radiofrequency ablation and how can it help OA?
Traditional RFA is often used to treat OA in the back or neck. Cooled radiofrequency ablation or C-RFA is typically used to treat knee osteoarthritis. The only difference is that C-RFA uses cooled needles, which allows the doctor to perform a larger lesion.
Does RFA require preparation?
Before this procedure, you should:
- Avoid eating within 6 hours before the RFA.
- Drink only water and clear liquids two hours before the procedure.
- Stop taking Aspirin and other medications that can interfere with blood clotting 2 weeks before the procedure.
What happens during a radiofrequency ablation procedure?
- You will receive a local anesthetic in the area.
- Then the doctor will use an X-ray device to guide a small needle to the exact location.
- The needle will increase its temperature and send radio waves to burn the affected nerves and block pain signals.
- These needles are removed after 60 to 90 seconds.
- You will be in observation for some minutes and then you can go home. You'll need someone to drive you.
Does radiofrequency ablation hurt?
We use a local anesthetic so you won’t feel pain during the procedure. There is a possibility of some discomfort during the 90 seconds during which the nerve is treated.
You could also experience minor pain following the procedure, which is why your doctor may prescribe you some medication.
What happens after the radiofrequency ablation procedure?
You will stay for observation after the RFA procedure. You will receive aftercare instructions and will go home after about 30 minutes. Make sure you ask someone to take you home since you won’t be able to drive for the next 24 hours.
Other recommendations you should keep in mind after the procedure are:
- Don’t operate heavy machinery.
- Avoid strenuous activities.
- Avoid baths and pools for the next 2 days after the procedure.
Does radiofrequency ablation have side effects?
Radiofrequency ablation procedures are very safe. However, there are some risks and side effects involved. They include:
- Tingling sensation
- Soreness and discomfort
- Swelling and bruising
- Headaches and dizziness
These side effects usually fade away within a few days. If you experience intense pain and swelling in the injection area, let your doctor know.
To avoid any severe complications, you must have this procedure with a certified and experienced doctor.
What other treatments are there for osteoarthritis?
RFA is highly effective in osteoarthritis management.
However, other treatments one of our pain doctors may recommend depending on your case are:
- Joint injections. In some cases, your doctor may recommend this alternative to reduce pain in the affected area. The effects of this procedure can last for several months.
- Regenerative medicine. Stem cells can develop into any type of cell, including bone and cartilage cells. That’s why they can regenerate the tissues affected by OA. This treatment also helps reduce inflammation, which helps reduce swelling and pain.
At Premier, our pain doctors can create a comprehensive treatment plan for you. It may include any of these procedures, as well as physical therapy, medications, and alternative therapies.