Suffer from arthritis pain in the hip and shoulder joints? Relief may be on its way. Researchers recently revealed a unique outpatient procedure that differs from more common approaches that include injections of anesthetic and corticosteroids into the joints.
The new approach involves an interventional radiology treatment known as cooled radiofrequency ablation (c-RFA). The procedure involves placing needles at trigger points around the shoulder and hip joints. A low-grade current known as radiofrequency then “stuns” the nerves, which slows the transmission of pain to the brain.
The study — presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America — involved 23 people with osteoarthritis, including 12 suffering from shoulder pain and 11 dealing with pain in the hip. They had become unresponsive to traditional approaches of relief involving anti-inflammatory pain control and intra-articular lidocaine-steroid injections.
“In our study, the results were very impressive and promising,” Felix M. Gonzalez, M.D., from the Radiology Department at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, said in the report.
“The patients with shoulder pain had a decrease in pain of 85 percent and an increase in function of approximately 74 percent. In patients with hip pain, there was a 70 percent reduction in pain, and a gain in function of approximately 66 percent.”
Another promising piece of data: the study indicated that there were no procedure-related complications.
“We’re just scratching the surface here,” Dr. Gonzalez said. “We would like to explore efficacy of the treatment on patients in other settings like trauma, amputations, and especially in cancer patients with metastatic disease.”
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