Surgery alternative to chronic knee, back or neck pain to be available at state-run SSKM Hospital

SSKM Hospital will be the first hospital in West Bengal to get a cooled radiofrequency machine for treatment of chronic knee, back, pelvic or neck pain.

The treatment which costs approximately Rs 2 lakh will be available for free at the state-run hospital. The state government has given the go-ahead for funds in order to procure the machine, said a senior doctor at the Physical Medicine Department in SSKM.

In this treatment – termed “ablation” – a cooled radiofrequency current at -60°C is used to “burn” the nerves that carry the sensation of pain from the affected area to the brain. It takes around 90 seconds to burn each site in the pain transmitting nerves and multiple nerves can be treated at the same time thus making the process a fast one.
This kind of treatment may serve as an alternative to replacement surgeries as the treatment is said to keep such pain at bay for a long period of time. The machine which costs around Rs. 50 lakh is presently used only in the ESI Hospital in treating such pains although on a hire basis from the manufacturer company.

Installing the machine in a hospital and delivering treatments free of cost will serve many poor people who can neither afford the replacement surgeries nor can afford such a costly alternative treatment.

The procedure lasts 40-45 minutes and is supposed to provide patients with long term relief from pain. However, there are conflicting views on the longevity of this treatment. While some say that the relief lasts for six months to one year, others argue that it lasts for around two years. In certain favourable cases, the treatment has been even known to last for around five years or so.
Such a treatment will thus find its usefulness in those cases where surgery is not possible either due to health reasons or due to age and of course where there is a shortage of funds. Other advantages of this treatment involve immediate pain relief, little to no recovery time and reduced need for pain medication. The treatment is said to be nearly devoid of any side effects.

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