Sometimes you have to play it cool to find pain relief.
For those suffering from chronic pain, finding relief often means invasive spinal fusion surgeries or potentially addictive opioid medications. A new treatment – water-cooled radiofrequency (RF) ablation – is a non-invasive outpatient option that is helping many local residents get back to the activities they enjoy.
The COOLIEF procedure uses cooled radiofrequency energy to target the sensory nerves causing pain, sparing the surrounding healthy tissues and nerves. Radiofrequency energy heats and cools the tissue at the site of pain. The system circulates water through the device while heating nerve tissue to create a treatment area that is larger than conventional radiofrequency ablation treatments. During the procedure, a special needle connected to a cooled radiofrequency machine is inserted in to the nerve. The main part of the needle is cooled and only the tip is heated, allowing greater precision in targeting the nerves causing the pain without excessive heat and requires little or no sedation.
What to Expect with Water-Cooled RF
Water-cooled radiofrequency ablation is an excellent option for patients with arthritis or nerve pain in the cervical spine, lumbar spine, knees and hips. Treatment takes about 35 to 45 minutes at each site, so patients with lumbar pain, for example, will require treatment on both sides of the spine. Pain relief lasts a year to 18 months, and some studies have shown that the procedure provides chronic back pain patients with up to 24 months of pain relief, improved physical function and reduced drug utilization.
This technology is safe for all ages and is a great alternative for those who are unwilling or unable to have spine or knee surgery.
A diagnostic MRI study is needed to determine if water-cooled radiofrequency ablation is right for you. If you are a candidate for the procedure, a treatment plan will be developed to address your particular goals and any concerns that you may have. Side effects may include a temporary burning sensation at the treatment site. Using ice packs at the procedure site and taking over the counter analgesic medication to alleviate pain can decrease your discomfort.
Improving Quality of Life without Opioids
Because this treatment is opioid-free, it’s a much safer option for those with a history of substance abuse. Several of my patients who could not use opioid pain medications have found quick, long-lasting pain relief with water-cooled radiofrequency ablation technology. And because patients are no longer living with pain, they are able to exercise again, further strengthening their muscles and improving their quality of life.
Patients can be referred to CentraState Medical Center for Water-cooled radiofrequency ablation treatment by their primary care or internal medicine physicians, or can self-refer to the program. CentraState Medical Center’s Physician Finder offers an extensive roster of highly skilled doctors, including board-certified pain management specialists, with offices located throughout central New Jersey. Visit our physician finder or call 866-CENTRA7 (866-236-8727).
Dr. Maged Ghattas is board-certified in pain medicine and palliative medicine. He was trained to use COOLIEF at the prestigious pain management program at Ohio State University. On staff at CentraState Medical Center, he can be reached at Complete Care Pain and Palliative Care in Freehold by calling 866-CENTRA7.