- The FDA approved a noninvasive treatment for arthritis called ‘Coolief’
- It alleviates chronic pain in the knee by sending radio frequency into nerve cells
- This freezes the cells and they are unable to send pain signals to the brain
- A study found the treatment eased pain in patients for up to 12 months
The FDA has given the green light to a new treatment that will ease the pain of knee arthritis for people who can’t have surgery.
Newly approved ‘Coolief’ is a non-invasive procedure that uses radio frequency to freeze nerve cells to stop them from transmitting pain signals to the brain.
Although it doesn’t cure osteoarthritis, it offers an alternative treatment to patients who can’t have a knee replacement surgery.
The new technique can alleviate the debilitating pain for up to a year, an improvement from steroid injections which normally last up to 12 weeks.
Out of the 31 million Americans who have osteoarthritis, up to 12 percent of adults are plagued by the symptoms in their knees.
The condition causes pain, stiffness and can be disabling, often developing slowly over many years.
Experts believe the firm rubbery material that covers the joints, begins to break down or swell.
As the condition progresses, cartilage and even bone can break down and chip off.
Eventually, the cartilage completely wears away, causing the bones to rub against each other, causing pain on movement.
Until now, the longest-lasting treatment was a knee replacement surgery.
Coolief is medically known as cooled radio frequency ablation and the operation only takes 40 minutes, compared to the two hours of knee replacement surgery.
The procedure is done by using needles to send radio frequency waves into the knee to freeze nervous tissue, which is where the pain stems from.
The cool temperature deactivates the nerves that send pain signals to the brain.
This results in the patient not being able to sense aches when they are using their legs and leads to overall relief.
The FDA’s approval comes after a study in February 2016 found that 74 percent of patients who had the treatment said their symptoms were at least reduced by half at six months.
At the 12-month mark, 65 percent said their pain was still reduced by half.
The treatment lasts until the frozen nerve cells regenerate and begin transmitting pain signals to the brain.
An American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine study in 2016 found that Coolief relieved patients of their pain longer than cortisone steroid injections.
Cortisone shots normally last for six to 12 weeks and cost anywhere from $100 to $300 per shot, according to WebMD.
The cost of Coolief ranges between $2,000 and $4,000.
However, the new treatment isn’t guaranteed to ward off future knee surgery because it doesn’t stop the condition’s progression.
Previous research suggests that a warning sign for developing osteoarthritis was ‘noisy knees’.
Researchers at the Baylor College of Medicine said individuals who hear grating, cracking, or popping sounds in or around their knee joint may go on to suffer with the degenerative disease.
The Texas team said their study is the first to find this link – which could help more people access preventive treatment.
A recent study by Tuft University, Boston and the University of Manchester found that high-fiber diets significantly reduce the risk of developing arthritis.
Researchers said people with a high fiber intake are up to 61 percent less likely to develop the condition than those consuming the lowest amounts.
They added that eating lots of fiber, found in brown rice, potato skins and other vegetables, may also prevent existing knee pain from worsening.
Their findings attempted to debunk the theory that arthritis occurs due to ‘wear and tear’ as damaged cartilage is unable to properly repair itself.