Chronic Knee Pain? It Could be Nerve Related!
Originally written by: Hanna Logsdon MS IV. Updated: June 20, 2022
When you lead an active lifestyle, knee pain can be hard to endure. If left untreated, it can lead to more traumatic injury or serious complications for the body, knees, thigh muscles, and legs.
When the pain is long-term, it becomes chronic, and the simplest task tends to be almost impossible.
According to the National Library of Medicine, approximately 25% of people suffer from knee pain. Keep reading to learn how the pain can be treated and who should consider these options.
Common Causes for Knee Pain in the Body
While people experience pain for several reasons, trauma and underlying medical conditions are typically the underlying cause.
However, here are a few other causes of irritation:
- A pinched nerve in the lower spine or hip.
- A herniated disc that affects the sciatic nerve and lower back.
- Damage to the peroneal nerve that causes the leg and foot to not function properly.
- A knee injury that affects the nerve roots and knee joints.
- Spinal stenosis that puts pressure on the spinal joints, sciatica, and lower back.
- The spine lacks normal curvature causing strain on the knees.
People often seek health advice from a doctor when they experience tight hamstrings, weakness in the muscles, lower back pain, and an injured leg. The discomfort patients experience tends to be described as sharp, shooting, burning electric, and pins and needles sensation.
How Do You Treat Knee Joint Pain?
The medial genicular, lateral genicular, and infrapatellar nerves are responsible for sensation in the knees. Therefore, directly addressing the common problems that cause nerve pain in the knee may be an effective option for some patients.
A genicular block requires an injection, using a small needle that delivers a combination of local anesthetic and steroid to the area. Rapid temporary relief is expected as soon as the day of the injection due to the local anesthetic.
Following the injections, the patient may experience swelling, tightness, or soreness in the knees, but it should not last long. Relief from the steroid will typically begin a few days after the injection and may last for a few weeks or months.
Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is considered a longer-lasting procedure and is often performed when the patient only receives temporary relief from other treatments like physical therapy.
With RFA, the affected nerves are located through stimulation with a small probe. Next, an injection of local anesthetic is administered to provide anesthesia. The nerves are then ablated or heated with a small electrode. The electrode reaches high temperatures that essentially burn and cut off the ability to receive negative pain sensations in the brain.
Who Should Consider Nerve Pain Procedures?
Treatment options like genicular blocks and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) often help patients with pain management. It enables the patient to gain better mobility, feel confident with their body, and contributes to positive health outcomes in the recovery process.
You may be a good candidate for one of these procedures if:
- You are not a good surgical candidate for a knee replacement procedure.
- You experience limited leg movement and hamstring tightness despite physical therapy and other procedures.
- You suffer from sciatic nerve pain but want to avoid or postpone surgery.
- You sustained an injury to the soft tissue, tendons, or muscles located in and around the knee.
- You have seen a physical therapist and have tried self-care but the pain persists.
What Are the Risks?
While genicular blocks and radiofrequency ablation procedures are generally low risks, there are always potential complications to keep in mind.
Although uncommon, these are a few possible complications to consider:
- Altered sensations like numbness, stiffness, or tingling may occur around the area following the procedure.
- Infections may occur even though sterile techniques are used.
- Increased discomfort may temporarily arise, and you may have soreness around the injection sites for up to a few days following the procedure.
Knee pain can be exhausting and affect the patient’s quality of life. While there are several options, less invasive treatment plans should be considered.
If you are experiencing symptoms and have received a disturbing diagnosis, addressing the genicular nerves may be an effective option.
Reach out to Dr. Martin Taylor, our Neurologist at OrthoNeuro, for more information about this procedure today!