Genicular Nerve Ablation
Genicular nerve ablation is a procedure to relieve pain originating in the genicular nerves. The genicular nerves are sensory nerves located in the knee. As a result of injury to this area or certain medical conditions, these nerves can become aggravated, causing pain.
What is genicular nerve ablation?
Genicular nerve ablation is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure for relieving chronic knee pain.
During a genicular nerve ablation procedure, the genicular nerves in the knee are ablated (burned) using heat generated by a radiofrequency current. This heat breaks up the pain signal from these nerves, providing relief.
A single genicular nerve ablation can provide upward of six months of pain relief and can be repeated as necessary for patients who respond well to the treatment.
Prior to a genicular nerve ablation, a diagnostic procedure, called a genicular nerve block, is performed to determine if the ablation would be effective.
During the block procedure, an anesthetic (numbing) medication is injected into the genicular nerves. If this injection successfully provides adequate pain relief, the patient is generally considered a good candidate for the ablation, which can provide much longer-term pain relief.
What Can I Expect During the Procedure?
You will receive sedation through an IV prior to the procedure. A nurse will bring you into the procedure room, where you will lay on your back on a special table. Your skin will be cleaned at the injection site and a local anesthetic will be applied to numb your skin.
The physician will use a type of x-ray machine called a fluoroscope to help guide a special, hollow needle to the specific nerve causing your pain. Once the needle is in place, a wire (also called a lead) with an electrode at the tip is inserted through the needle and directed down to the nerve. A radiofrequency current is then passed through the lead, applying heat directly to the nerve. This heat disrupts the nerve’s ability to transmit pain signals, providing relief. This process is repeated two more times to ablate all three major genicular nerves.
What Can I Expect After the Procedure?
You will be moved into the recovery area and monitored by a nurse for about 60 minutes while your sedation wears off. You will need a driver to take you home upon discharge.
We suggest you take it easy for the remainder of the day. You may then resume normal activities the next day. You may experience tenderness or aggravated symptoms for several days after the injection as the anesthetic wears off. Apply ice packs to help with this pain. Your leg may also feel numb for a short period following the procedure. This is normal and will resolve on its own quickly.
Genicular nerves eventually grow back, which means the associated pain may also return. The genicular nerve ablation procedure can safely be repeated as necessary to keep the pain away.
Schedule an appointment with Twin Cities Pain Clinic to discuss if genicular nerve ablation can help with your pain.
RELIEVE YOUR PAIN, RENEW YOUR LIFE!