One way to treat knee pain is with genicular nerve blocks and subsequent radiofrequency ablation. The block targets three nerves that carry pain signals from the knee to the brain: the superior medial genicular nerve, the superior lateral genicular nerve, and the inferior medial genicular nerve. Comprised of anesthetic medication, the injection temporarily numbs the nerves to the knee and pain relief should be noticeable within 15 minutes and last several hours.
After two successful diagnostic genicular nerve blocks, a genicular nerve radiofrequency ablation may be indicated. Like the nerve block, the ablation also blocks the pain signals from the knee to the brain. A special machine is used to heat up the nerves and causes them to stop sending signals. This can provide pain relief for up to 18 months. Ablations can take 2-6 weeks to fully work and can be repeated if needed.
The side effects are similar to that of all procedures and include: bleeding, infection, and nerve damage. The chance of this happening is very rare as the doctor uses a c-arm fluoroscope machine to guide him.
Reduce procedural discomfort by applying ice for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours to reduce injection site swelling and irritation. NSAIDs and/or Tylenol are also recommended.