Radio-frequency For Back Pain and Knee Pain is it a Bad Idea?
Radio-Frequency denervation of a nerve is basically like killing a terminal branch of a nerve with electric current or temperature probes. It is never permanent, as the nerve grows back, and it is quite painful. Think about how your nerve feels when you kill it? Toothache ring a bell? It has been around for decades. Some doctors do it frequently, others do not. It does make the doctors a lot of money, and patients in pain often are desperate for relief, willing to try anything.
Other doctors, Including Dr. Lox feels that it should only be used in some cases, and not very often. Dr. Lox has seen the treatment effects, friends who were doctors who had it, and said don’t do it. Also, Dr. Lox has had low back pain himself for years and would never consider doing Radio-frequency denervation. As an expert experienced Physician, Dr. Lox understands why his nerve is useful to his back condition and why the pain sometimes is a good reminder not to do certain things.
Why You Need Proprioceptor and Pain Feedback
First of all, what is proprioception?
Have you ever heard the term Peripheral Neuropathy? It is common with aging in some people and diseases, especially diabetes.
When the terminal branches of the nerves, are injured by disease or cell death, it is referred to as peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral means terminal or end branches of the nerve. Like a tree the trunk is largest, followed by the larger branches, and eventually, the end are twigs. Twigs are small branches that are similar to the end branches of our nervous system. The peripheral nerves, being much smaller are more likely to be injured.
This is why diabetic peripheral neuropathy affects the ends of your feet and legs, it can also involve the arms as well. When you lose sensation from peripheral neuropathy, you lack awareness of your position in space making missteps or falls more common. This can be and is dangerous. Hip fractures, or striking your head causing a subdural hematoma can be life-threatening or result in death. By the same mechanism, loss of sensation can lead to burns, pressure ulcers, or bedsores.
Now the really important point for patients going to doctors for pain relief of low back pain or knee pain. When radio-frequency is offered as a means of pain relief, it sounds good. Everyone wants pain relief. However, just like the opioid epidemic, it didn’t fix low back pain or knee pain. First of all deadening, the nerve hurts…. it really hurts. If you have burned your skin, just think about it.
That nerve, after the pain from deadening it goes away, it lacks the ability to feel pain, only in the area of that terminal nerve distribution, this is why it often does not solve low back pain, the same as spinal surgery is only about 50% effective in the United States. This is because most surgeries on the back are not directed at what or all the causes of pain.
Next, the nerve grows back. Typically this is in 6 months.
Now, during this period when you cannot feel the area of pain, you are more likely to overdo it, further damaging an already injured or degenerative arthritic area.
Radio-frequency Denervation of the Spine
If your spine becomes insensitive to facet joint pain after Radio-frequency denervation, facet loading activities such as bending, twisting, compression loading will not be viewed as painful. So we are sold by pain doctors this is good. However, running, lifting weights such as squats, simple housework (sweeping, mopping, even making the bed) all involve the deadened nerve area of the facet joint named the medial branch. Often multiple segments are denervated with radio-frequency. This means more deadened area of the spine, more chance for harm, and unfortunately more money for the doctor talking you into radio-frequency denervation.
Radio-Frequency Denervation of the Knee
This is a newer treatment gaining in frequency by many more doctors.
Good or Bad?
Imagine running on a knee with the peripheral nerve deadened. This is usually recommended as a pain reliever until you are ready for knee replacement on degenerative knee arthritis pain.
Running is only going to accelerate the progression of degeneration of your knee pushing you faster towards a total knee replacement surgery.
Knee Stem Cell Therapy and Knee Radio-Frequency Denervation
Good or Bad Idea?
I have seen this more recently, as the many bad actors are pushing into weekend Stem Cell experts. Shockingly, some established stem cell clinics are discussing it as a treatment as well. Unfortunately, money leads to more marketing ploys. Internet e-books, vitamins to sell, seminars, and Facebook campaigns.
If you deaden the nerve to the knee, while you are doing stem cell treatment,
How does a doctor know if it is working?
Sell you another when it wears off?
About Dennis M. Lox, M.D.
Whether you are a professional athlete, weekend warrior, or have arthritis from aging, Dr. Lox can help.
Dennis M. Lox, M.D. is an internationally renown Sports and Regenerative Medicine specialist. Dr. Lox incorporates Regenerative Medicine techniques such as cell science applications, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), and Tissue Engineering aspects, to help patients from around the world with a vast array of problems. Dr. Lox is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Dr. Lox lectures extensively and has edited two PM&R textbooks, the prestigious A State of the Art Review (Star) on Low Back Pain, and Soft Tissue Injuries: Diagnosis and Treatment.
Dennis M. Lox, M.D. maintains an active practice in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, and in Beverly Hills, California.