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Putting Your Best Foot Forward in Time for Golf Season

Rainwater_Marvin_LabcoatBy Marvin Rainwater, PA

Spring is in the air and for many of us that means its prime golfing season and no one wants to miss out on their tee time due to chronic knee pain.  Second only to the lower back, the knee is the most commonly injured joint in golf.  And for individuals suffering from arthritis, knee pain can affect your game by much more than adding extra strokes.

In the United States, more than 300,000 knee replacement operations are performed every year.  Once an individual has a knee replacement, they can generally resume golf about 18 weeks after the surgery. Some return to the game faster, while for others, rehabilitation takes longer. Whatever the case, a golfer must always get the go-ahead from his orthopedic surgeon before returning to the course.

While surgery is the solution for many people, it’s not always the best option due to age, health issues, or personal preference.   But that doesn’t mean you have to live with chronic pain in your knees.

Doctors typically treat joint pain with exercise, pain medications, and cortisone injections.  These provide effective, but temporary relief from pain.  Now patients in the High Point area have a new option – a procedure called Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA).

Over the last few  years the doctors at UNC Regional Physicians Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation have treated hundreds of patients with RFA for the knee and hip arthritis pain.  RFA is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that can safely eliminate your pain for a year or more.

“This simple procedure is performed with a needle to block the nerves that provide sensation to the joint space. There are two steps to RFA.  The first step involves temporarily blocking the nerves in order to see if most of your knee pain goes away,” said Marvin Rainwater, PA.  “If so, you proceed to the second step of the procedure where radiofrequency energy safely targets the sensory nerves causing the pain.  By disrupting the nerves causing the pain, you can have significantly less pain for up to one year.  This eliminates the need for surgeries to address the arthritis pain.”

RFA does not affect the strength or range of motion of the knee.   The procedure usually takes only one hour, requires no general anesthesia, and patients can return to normal activities the same day.  So you could be back on the links in no time at all.

The good news is arthritis should not end your golfing activities. Golf is extremely beneficial for strength, balance, coordination and a better range of motion. Remember to properly stretch and warm up before and after a round to reduce arthritis symptoms. Swing alterations, such as a shorter backswing or proper weight shift may promote less wear and tear on the body. If walking is a possibility, aerobic exercise improves the heart, lung and muscle function and benefits overall health, weight control, mood and sleep. Although arthritis can compromise daily activities, try to stay active and prolong any further damage to the joints.

Patients should note that RFA is not a permanent fix for the pain.  Patients usually get 1 to 1 ½ years of significant pain relief.  The procedure can then be repeated if the pain returns.

If you are concerned about managing your knee pain, talk to your primary care physician and see if you are a candidate for RFA.

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