Cryoneurolysis consists of freezing and essentially destroying the peripheral nerve axon, which allegedly then allows for complete regeneration and functional recovery of the nerve in the area of the body where that nerve causes chronic pain.
I certainly was not familiar with this non-drug alternative for pain control. But a study published earlier this year in Osteoarthritis and Cartilage concluded that this treatment has an impact on pain and disability associated with degenerative joint disease of the knee, the improvements lasting almost half a year.
There may be other applications, for other types of chronic pain, in the not-too-distant future.
The researchers enrolled 180 patients in the double-blind, sham controlled trial, ranging in age from 33 to 75 years, who met the American College of Rheumatology clinical and radiographic criteria for degenerative joint disease of the knee, and were able to walk without assistance.
Cryoneurolysis appeared safe and well tolerated with expected side effects that were mostly mild in severity, transient, and did not require intervention. The higher incidence of swelling in the active treatment group was expected because ablation of the target sensory nerve triggers a healing process beginning with an inflammatory phase that causes localized swelling.
It is no secret we need non-drug therapies for chronic pain. It will be interesting to see how this therapy is accepted in the medical community.
Cryoneurolysis to treat the pain and symptoms of knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial
Radnovich, R. et al. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage , Volume 25 , Issue 8 , 1247 - 1256