Knee pain can affect people of all ages. The impact your knees bear day in and day out can quickly turn into inflammation and pain, affecting your mobility. Conventional treatments for chronic and severe knee pain range from prescription drugs to surgery, but a recent innovation in pain management may be just the answer for people who haven’t responded well to medicine, are not ready for surgery or are about to have surgery. With the iovera° medical device, your physician can perform a localized treatment that provides immediate relief for up to 90 days without drugs or surgery. Peter Loo, M.D., has performed the iovera° treatment many times and has learned patients’ most frequently asked questions. We spoke with Dr. Loo to get some answers and learn more about the treatment.
“The iovera° treatment is targeted cryoanalgesia for non-opioid pain relief for knee pain,” Dr. Loo explained. “Basically, we freeze the nerves around the knee, causing an interruption of pain impulses to the brain. There are two ways the procedure can be performed. I perform the ultrasound-guided method that allows for fewer punctures and more localized treatment.”
While this may be a great option for people dealing with knee pain, it might not be the right fit for every patient.
“With the iovera° treatment, we treat patients who are getting ready to have knee replacement surgery and perform this procedure approximately 2-4 weeks prior to surgery to help with postoperative pain,” Dr. Loo said. “We also treat high-risk patients who cannot undergo a knee replacement surgery but are experiencing severe pain due to knee osteoarthritis and have not had success with other conservative treatment options.”
An essential component of the iovera° treatment is the use of below-freezing temperature, delivered locally via a small probe.
“I locate the nerves that supply sensation to the anterior (front) knee region, and using ultrasound guidance, guide the iovera° probe to the nerve and freeze the nerve, which causes temporary, and reversible, disruption of the nerves that supply sensation to the anterior knee,” Dr. Loo shared. “This can provide up to 90 days of pain relief.”
Some of the most important factors for patients when deciding on iovera° include:
The iovera° treatment is not a permanent solution to pain. For this reason, among others, Dr. Loo prefers this method for patients who are preparing for knee replacement surgery, if applicable, although there are many different scenarios in which the iovera° treatment can be beneficial.
“Patients can expect to receive pain relief for 2-5 months, but on average about three months of relief,” Dr. Loo said. “Patients can return to normal activities within a day or two after the procedure. However, patients should avoid swimming or submersion until injection sites are healed.”
Another one of the allures of the iovera° treatment is mild or nonexistent side effects in most patients.
“Patients may experience some discomfort and possible bruising at the treatment sites, local redness or some pain and tenderness,” Dr. Loo explained. “Otherwise, there are no major side effects with this treatment.”
For more information about Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at The University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus, visit kutopeka.com/ortho.