CHICAGO–For Chicago resident Folasade “Sade” Adekoya, taking a stroll through a park, running with her children or even just getting through the work day, were all painful tasks because of a degenerative joint disease that affects her knee.
The intense pain plagued her from August of 2013 until this past February. When the pain spread to her hips and back she was told by an orthopedic surgeon that total knee replacement surgery was her only option. Adekoya refused to believe that someone at her age, 48, should have to have something so serious.
Working at a hospital caring for patients, requires long hours on your feet. Adekoya would wobble around at work with ice packs wrapped around her knee to help numb the pain. She said she tried massage therapy, Tylenol, pain patches, and more, but nothing worked.
One day an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist at the hospital suggested she try Coolief for Genicular Neurotomy. The new minimally invasive, non-pharmacological treatment is for those who suffer from chronic pain.
She looked into the alternative and soon the relief that she was so desperately seeking was discovered through the simple procedure.
“This kind of pain–it was like my knee was swollen and warm to touch, it just came out of nowhere; it was really scary, Adekoya said.
It felt like my bones were on top of each other and grinding together and with every step there was excruciating pain.”
Dragan Gastevski, Anesthesiologist and Pain Physician from Advocate South Suburban in Hazel Crest, Ill., treated Adekoya, as well as other patients in her situation.
Compared to knee replacement surgery, the Coolief procedure is significantly lower in cost, less painful and much faster. The non-invasive, outpatient treatment targets the nerves that cause the pain through cooled radiofrequency energy.
Gastevski recommends Coolief for those who are high risk patients and for those who don’t need to restructure their knee. This treatment simply removes the pain.
“Before Coolief there really wasn’t anything in between medication and surgery,” Gastevski said.
“This opens up a whole new dimension of something that we can do that does not involve taking pills or thinking to yourself, how many pills do I need in my pocket to get to the grocery store and back,” he said.
One of the biggest concerns that people have is the level of pain, but the doctor said that compared to the normal level of pain the patient typically feels, the procedure doesn’t even compare. Other concerns have to do with losing all feeling in the knee, but Gastevski said that patients will still be able to feel.
“It’s just the deep down pain that is gone,” he said.
There may still be individuals who will need total knee replacement. That surgery is for people with worn out joints and out of alignment knees. If they only have pain, but everything else is how it should be, Gastevski then recommends Coolief.
The two stage process is fairly quick. First Gastevski does a test where he injects medication to numb the pain. This ensures that he can locate the nerves causing the pain. Step one only takes a few minutes. The second stage is the actual Coolief process. A needle burns away the nerves that cause the deep pain, but feeling of the skin remains.
Adekoya was able to have the procedure done in the morning and go to work later that afternoon.
She encourages others to give it a try.
“I can vouch that I’ve had terrific results and anybody at work can tell you how the difference in the way I walk and feel is like night and day, she said.
I’m hoping that my story gets out there and helps other people because surgery is not the only answer, I’m living proof of that.”