Radio waves used to slow pain transmission in arthritis

November 18, 2020

Scientists have chanced upon a novel technique that uses low-grade radiofrequency energy (cooled radiofrequency ablation) to help sufferers of osteoarthritis. According to Dr. Felix M. Gonzalez from the Emory University School of Medicine, Georgia, US, this form of targeted and long-lasting pain relief involves inserting needles into the affected joint to “stun” the sensory nerves with low-grade radiofrequency energy.

After successful pain treatment in knee arthritis patients, Dr. Gonzalez and team turned their attention to shoulder and hip arthritis, enlisting 23 patients that had become unresponsive to anti-inflammatory pain control and steroid injections, which are the traditional treatments for arthritic pain. The patients received the cooled radiofrequency ablation treatment and also had to complete surveys relating to their pain, range of motion and joint function three months post-procedure.

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Both hip and shoulder pain groups reported significant decreases in pain and increases in dynamic function as a result of the therapy. “The patients with shoulder pain had a decrease in pain of 85%, and an increase in function of approximately 74%; in patients with hip pain, there was a 70% reduction in pain, and a gain in function of approximately 66%,” explained Dr. Gonzalez.

Apart from treating arthritis patients in this way, the scientists believe their technique may be suited to treat pain and discomfort driven by other diseases like cancer and sickle-cell anaemia.

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Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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