GENICULAR NERVE BLOCK

Genicular Nerve Block for Knee Pain Treatment

Our knees endure a lot of use and abuse on a daily basis. If you are experiencing chronic pain in one or both knees, a Genicular Nerve Block for Knee Pain Treatment could help you get back on your feet. The Texas Pain Care team in the Sugar Land, Missouri City, and Houston areas are experts at diagnosing and addressing knee pain to help their family of patients enjoy a pain-free life.

WHAT IS A GENICULAR NERVE BLOCK?

A genicular nerve block is an injection of medication close to specific nerves in and around the knee joint with a goal to provide temporary, and sometimes prolonged, pain relief. The medication consists of a local anesthetic, which blocks the pain-signaling nerves in the knee. This doesn’t treat any underlying conditions, but does allow for the patient to enjoy rehabilitative exercises or other treatments without experiencing pain. Sometimes a steroid will also be used, which helps to combat inflammation, but this isn’t always used or necessary. 

A genicular nerve block is similar to a general steroid injection but the main difference is that a nerve block is administered to treat one specific, targeted area of the body, while a steroid injection treats a broader area. Additionally, a nerve block injection doesn’t always include a steroid.  

The reason why genicular nerve blocks are useful is because they can be targeted to the specific nerves that surround the knee joint. These branches of nerves that help the knee to function include: 

“Genicular” means relating to the knee. This is why the aforementioned branches of nerves are called genicular nerves. 

A genicular nerve block is used for two main reasons: to provide pain relief and also as a diagnostic tool. This can help pain that is either sporadic, felt during only a certain part of the day, or can be chronic and interfere with daily activities. If the injection targeted at the specific genicular nerve relieves pain, and even helps the patient to recover comfortably with the help of physical therapy, then the genicular nerve block was successful. However, if pain relief was not experienced at the patients’ desired level, then the block was helpful in providing some pain relief while other treatment measures are investigated, which generally include radiofrequency ablation. 

WHAT CONDITIONS DO GENICULAR NERVE BLOCKS TREAT?

Overall, genicular nerve blocks are used to either alleviate chronic knee pain that hasn’t responded to conservative treatments, or to alleviate knee pain due to a knee surgery. They are also a great option for patients who prefer to opt for minimally-invasive options that let them simultaneously utilize physical therapy and targeted exercise to control their pain. Patients who are also unable to undergo knee surgery or who want to avoid surgery altogether might find genicular nerve blocks attractive, as well as those who are allergic to steroids or want to avoid putting steroids into their body. 

Patients who are experiencing the below conditions can also benefit from genicular nerve blocks:

Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common cause of chronic knee pain and the most frequent use of genicular nerve blocks. With osteoarthritis of the knee, cartilage is worn down and years of wear and tear, resulting in bone rubbing up against bone, upsetting the genicular nerves. A genicular nerve block allows for a reduction of pain, giving patients the opportunity to become more mobile.

Knee replacement surgery: If you are still experiencing pain after undergoing partial or complete knee replacement surgery, a genicular nerve block can provide the pain relief you’ve been missing. Or, if you aren’t a candidate for surgery, the nerve block can still offer relief.

Chronic knee pain: Other than osteoarthritis, chronic knee pain can be caused by gout, tendinitis or injury. While there are several options for treatment, a great first step is a minimally-invasive genicular nerve block, which allows for patients to comfortably explore additional therapy options and, if needed, additional surgical options.

Pain management: for those patients who prefer to avoid taking pain medications, or might have a history of substance abuse, genicular nerve blocks allow for a reduction of needed pain medications during and/or after surgery.

WHAT DOES A GENICULAR NERVE BLOCK INVOLVE?

Pain management specialists typically administer genicular nerve blocks in an outpatient (non-hospital) setting. Patients can expect to lie on their back and have a pillow placed under their knee to elevate it. A mild sedative might be used to help the patient relax. The provider will clean the skin using an antiseptic solution, and will then use imaging guidance, such as ultrasound or fluoroscopy, to locate the exact injection spots, which are outside of the joints so that the pain is cut off where the nerves begin. The entire procedure takes around 15 minutes. Most patients report experiencing pain relief within minutes, with pain relief lasting anywhere from days to weeks to months, depending on the patient. 

It is highly recommended to have a friend or family member drive you home, and it’s suggested to avoid strenuous activity for the first 24 hours after the injection. Ice and over-the-counter medications could help to make recovery more comfortable while pain relief levels stabilize. 

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WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND RISKS OF A GENICULAR NERVE BLOCK?

Benefits of genicular nerve blocks include temporary or permanent pain relief that helps patients enjoy a better quality of life, as well as temporary or permanent inflammation relief. Another important benefit is treatment availability, meaning that if a genicular nerve block worked, then there are other minimally-invasive options that could provide you with permanent or long-lasting relief. This helps patients to avoid surgery and a life taking medications. 

Due to the fact that a genicular nerve block is a minimally-invasive treatment option, the risks are very minimal and also very rare. These include nerve damage, tissue damage, bleeding, allergic reaction and increase to pain. This is why it’s important to place your trust in an experienced team of pain management specialists like the Texas Pain Care team who are experts at providing genicular nerve blocks so that risks are avoided at all costs.

WILL A GENICULAR NERVE BLOCK HELP ME?

If you have chronic pain and want to both utilize additional therapy methods as well as avoid surgery, then yes! Genicular nerve blocks are a great option for patients who would like to enjoy temporary or more long-lasting pain relief that allows them to get back to their desired quality of life. 

The Texas Pain Care team specializes in comfortably diagnosing and treating chronic knee pain using only the most state-of-the-art and cutting-edge treatments and techniques, which include genicular nerve blocks, with a goal to help our patients experience a pain-free life. If you are experiencing chronic knee pain, please schedule an appointment today with one of our pain management specialists in the Sugarland, Missouri City or Houston areas. 

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