Transcutaneous pulsed radiofrequency treatment in patients with painful knee awaiting total knee joint replacement

Clin J Pain. 2010 Jun;26(5):429-32. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e3181d92a87.


Objective: Our study was designed to determine if transcutaneous-pulsed radiofrequency treatment (TCPRFT) was able to reduce the pain experienced by patients awaiting total knee joint replacement (TKJR). We conducted a randomized, double-blinded, placebo controlled trial of TCPRFT in patients referred for TKJR to our hospital's Orthopedic Outpatient Clinic.

Methods: Patients on the waiting list for assessment for TKJR were invited to participate and were examined in the clinic if they satisfied the inclusion criteria. Patients were randomized to receive active or sham TCPRFT. The alteration in pain and function of the treated knee after a single TCPRFT was assessed at examination at 1 and 4 weeks using visual analog pain score (VAS) at rest and after 20 and 400 m walks.

Results: The results of 50 patients showed a statistically significant reduction in VAS at 1 and 4 weeks compared with baseline in the group who received active treatment. We also demonstrated what is considered a clinically significant improvement in this group that became more pronounced at week 4 compared with week 1 and also more after a 400 m walk compared with a 20 m walk. Maximum improvement observed in group data was 19/100 VAS. Patients receiving sham treatment showed no statistically significant improvement.

Discussion: We believe this to be the first report of a controlled study of TCPRFT. This pilot study shows a benefit of the technique that justifies future research.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Management*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waiting Lists