Painful Joints

Learn more about painful joints.

Definition

Joints often become painful due to arthritis that forms after trauma, as part of the normal aging process, or as a consequence of a collagen vascular disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or lupus. Often, patients with these painful joints may benefit from joint replacement or joint fusion surgeries. However, in some cases, patients may not be good candidates for these types of major surgery.

For those patients with painful joints who are not candidates for joint replacement or joint fusion surgery, there is another option for pain relief which involves dividing the nerves supplying feeling to these painful joints. These procedures, known as joint denervations, are short in duration and can often be performed without general anesthesia.

Diagnosis and Treatment

In order to determine if a patient is a good candidate for joint denervation surgery, local anesthetic is injected into the nerves supplying sensation to the painful joint (a procedure called a nerve block). If the patient responds well to the block, this is a good indication that a permanent division of the same nerves is likely to succeed in reducing pain. Patients undergoing a joint denervation procedure will have incisions placed at the locations of the different nerves supplying their painful joint. The nerves will then be divided to remove painful feeling from the joint. This can often be performed without the need for a general anesthetic. Following surgery, the patient will resume normal activities within a short period (one to two weeks).