LOS ANGELES, Ca – More than 10-million Americans suffer from knee pain. Drugs and surgery can be a fix, but now, there's a better option for some patients and doctors are freezing away the pain.
Sixteen-year-old Abbey Watson has been running her whole life.
Watson says, "I did my first 5k when I was four years old!"
The cross country athlete has even gone to states. But recently, knee pain slowed her down.
She said, "Every time I stepped down, it would send a shock through my legs."
Abbey had a condition where growth spurts caused painful swelling right below her knee. Vernon Williams, MD, Director of the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Ladera Ranch, California offered her a way to freeze away the pain. It's called focused cold therapy.
Dr. Williams explained, "That focused cold therapy allows us to reduce the temperature of a peripheral nerve to a very precise zone."
Doctors locate the nerve that's responsible for the pain. They then numb the area and insert a cold probe with liquid nitric oxide to freeze the nerve.
Dr. Williams says, "And that results in just turning that nerve off temporarily, so it's unable to send pain signals."
The cold therapy reaches negative 120 degrees. It doesn't damage surrounding tissues and doesn't kill the nerve. The relief lasts a few months.
Abbey noticed a difference right away.
"I ran the next day, and it was already significantly better" she exclaimed.
Now she's setting her goals high with no pain holding her back!
Watson said, "I'm looking forward to going to state, and we're even hoping to make nationals."
The cold therapy procedure can be used for any kind of pain where a peripheral nerve is involved. Dr. Williams says he even uses it to relieve headaches in some of his patients. By the way, Abbey and her team won state.