Date Published: Aug 17, 2023

Surgery For Pain


Radiofrequency genicular nerve ablation is a newly developed minimally invasive procedure that may treat pain due to knee osteoarthritis. Radiofrequency ablation (or denervation) is an effective treatment that has been used for over forty years for other painful conditions including low back pain and neck pain due to facet joint arthritis. A probe is placed through a needle next to the nerve to be treated. Then a radiofrequency current from the probe destroys the nerve and blocks the transmission of pain signals from the painful structure. Pain relief from the procedure lasts on average nine to twelve months while the nerves regenerate.

It has recently been shown that there are multiple small nerves, called the genicular nerves, that may transmit pain from the knee joint. Studies suggest that radiofrequency ablation can be used to treat some of these genicular nerves to the knee, blocking pain due to knee osteoarthritis.

There are two stages to the procedure. First the doctor performs a local anaesthetic block to the genicular nerves to assess if there is any improvement in your pain. This will help establish if radiofrequency genicular nerve ablation is likely to help. If the block is positive the second step is to undergo the treatment. Both procedures are performed as day surgery under light sedation using X-ray guidance to place the needles.

Be Aware

There are risks associated with any interventional procedure. For this reason invasive treatments such as radiofrequency genicular nerve ablation should only be considered in patients who have tried all less invasive treatment options.

Potential risks from radiofrequency genicular nerve ablation include nerve damage, infection, bleeding and a reaction to any of the local anaesthetic or sedation medications used during the procedure. As this is a new procedure with a small evidence base for its effectiveness, it is not possible to predict if it will be an effective treatment for any particular patient.

Mahima Kalra
Aug 23, 2023

Ready to get started?

Our friendly staff are always here to help. Contact us to begin your journey to a happier, healthier you.