CARSON CITY — A new therapy technique designed to ease knee pain without surgery is now being performed at Carson City Hospital.
The new procedure, which implements cooled radio-frequency lesioning and has been used to ease back pain for many years, has only recently begun being used to do the same in regards to pain in the knee.
Dr. Parut Bhimalli of Carson Health has been performing the procedure at Carson City Hospital for about two months. After performing it on two patients, he says results have been positive.
“We are very excited about this procedure,” Bhimalli said. “It’s not going to replace the surgery, but it can by them time. They will likely be able to walk better.”
According to Bhimalli, the procedure, which involves the application of heat to nerves to block the transmission of pain, effectively “burning” the nerves to cancel their signals of pain, is intended for those who are not ideal candidates for surgery, whether it be due to poor health or age.
“We can offer this procedure to get them pain relief until they are fit to have surgery,” he said. “This is a good option for somebody who has a degenerative knee disease, but they don’t want to do surgery because of health problems.”
According to Ted Timmis of Kimberly-Clark Pain Management, patients usually receive relief from their pain that typically lasts between six to nine months.
Timmis said Bhimalli is the only pain specialist in Mid-Michigan who has been trained on cooled radio-frequency lesioning and is the first physician in the state to perform the procedure on the knee.
“This is a significant advance in the non-surgical treatment of knee pain and is a great option for patients who are not candidates for knee replacement,” Timmis said. “These patients don’t have to go to the University of Michigan or the Cleveland Clinic now to get this done, and they can’t go to Sparrow or Spectrum, but they do it at Carson and they are getting great results.”
Timmis added the the process is an outpatient procedure, meaning that there is no overnight stay in the hospital. The process is performed in a matter of hours with the patient leaving the hospital the same day they entered.
Dr. Ami Mac of the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan has also been performing the procedure in the Detroit and Flint areas, and said her results are also very favorable.
“Right now this process is being performed on the spine and we’ve been doing it for decades,” Mac said. “We’ve now taken it and moved it to the knee. One of the things that’s been interesting with this procedure, the preliminary results have been fabulous.”
Mac said she recently had a patient who needed assistance walking and was not a candidate for knee surgery because she was in her late 90s.
“Surgery is a big deal,” she said. “Once you have a knee replacement, you’re putting in a fake knee. You can’t go back from that.”
Mac said the woman’s pain level, on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the worst, went from a 10 to a 2 after the cooled radio-frequency lesioning procedure.
“For people who are considering having a knee replacement, going in for an initial block may be worth while just to see if trying this procedure will ultimately will provide some relief.
For Bhimalli, the new procedure is something he is glad he is now able to offer to his patients.
“They are happy to hear that we are offering something to help them,” he said. “We have done it on two patients so far and they are doing very well. We are going to do two more patients next month, so we are moving forward with success.”
For more information about the procedure, contact the Carson Health Pain Management Center at (989) 584-3131 ext. 182.