Radiofrequency is also effective in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis

Knee osteoarthritis, also called gonarthrosis, is one of the most common joint pathologies in the elderly. It is characterized by pain, stiffness and functional disability in most cases, making daily life activities difficult.

The incidence of this joint pathology is closely related to age. In fact, according to a study by the Spanish Society of Rheumatology (SER) on the prevalence of rheumatic diseases, the prevalence of symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee in Spain is estimated at 10.2% (14% in women and 5.7% in men). Furthermore, there is a prevalence of osteoarthritis detected by radiography of more than 60% of the population in people around 65 years of age and of more than 80% of the population over 75 years of age. Thus, the main risk factors for osteoarthritis of the knee are:

  • Female sex
  • Over 50 years of age
  • Obesity

Treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee

Although most patients in mild stages or with moderate pain respond to conservative treatments (relative rest, physical therapy, pharmacological approach), sometimes these may fail or the side effects may be intolerable, so that surgery must be resorted to.

However, there are some patients who, either because they have several disorders other than osteoarthritis, because they do not want to undergo surgery or because they are on a waiting list, are not indicated for surgical treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Thus, taking into account that the number of patients with this pathology will increase due to the aging of the population, it is necessary to resort to alternative treatments to conventional ones.

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Radiofrequency (RF) of geniculate nerves is a minimally invasive interventional technique that is being increasingly used in Pain Units. Geniculate nerves are the nerve branches around the knee joint, are exclusively sensitive and can be easily located through the skin.

The procedure is performed using fluoroscopy to obtain real-time images and a sensorimotor neurostimulator, a device that is surgically implanted and whose function is to generate mild electrical impulses that reach the epidural space to alter the pain messages before they reach the brain.

Thus, radiofrequency treatment of the geniculate nerves around the knee joint capsule could be an effective alternative with few complications in patients with moderate-severe pain due to osteoarthritis of the knee.