Surgery-free approach to pain finally yields relief for victim of crippling arthritis

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By Joyce Coronel

The pain got so bad, Tempe resident Carl Barnes called his wife to say he couldn’t take it
anymore. He was done living. Plagued by vicious arthritis pain through the years, Barnes was at the end of his rope.

“I decided, enough is enough,” Barnes said. “My primary-care doctor was like a lot of doctors: Prescribe, prescribe, prescribe.”

But nothing, not even the legal limit of opioid painkillers, relieved the agony.

“I was constantly in pain and couldn’t figure out why. I was on five different painkillers.”

Barnes’ wife rushed home from work after receiving Carl’s alarming call and took him to the hospital, where they learned he was not suicidal—he just needed a solution to
the torment of advanced arthritis in his knees and back.

Unable to sit, lie down or do much of anything without pain, Barnes turned to Dr. Minesh Zaveri, who oversees pain management at Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital and St. Luke’s
Medical Center.

St. Luke’s is the first in the state of Arizona to offer a revolutionary alternative to surgery and joint replacement for arthritis sufferers.

The treatment, known as Cooled Radio Frequency Ablation, or Cooling RF, spells relief for patients who in the past relied only on medications, intensive physical therapy or last resort surgery that often includes joint repair or joint replacement.

Arthritis affects 24 percent of Arizona’s population, and as the population ages that number is expected to grow. With more than 1.2 million adults currently living with doctor-diagnosed arthritis in a state where opioid consumption is reaching epidemic levels and has been declared a public health emergency, both patients and doctors are looking
for alternative, yet effective, treatment options.

Recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, Cooling RF is said to be a less drastic option for people with moderate to severe osteoarthritis pain. Using radio frequencies to target and essentially shut off the nerves that send pain signals from the affected arthritic area to the brain, Cooling RF has become an effective treatment option
for individuals whom knee replacement surgery is not an option or for those who have additional health conditions.

Probes are inserted that deliver the radio frequencies during an outpatient procedure that approximately takes 15-20 minutes to complete.

While the treatment does not reduce the level of arthritis in the joint, pain relief is significant and can help patients live relatively pain free, without needing to rely on sometimes highly addictive medication.

“We have seen incredible results with patients who have undergone this game-changing treatment,” said Zaveri.

“By interrupting the pain receptors in the brain, pain and functionality is drastically
improved in minutes to hours after the procedure, which is done in an outpatient setting, giving patients the chance to get back to living their lives to the fullest much sooner.”

Barnes said he would “absolutely recommend” Cooling RF to fellow arthritis sufferers. “It’s done wonders,” he said. “It’s made me human again. I’ve told many people, ‘Dr. Z. saved my life.’”

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