Procedure to zap nerves in hip gives woman “phenomenal” pain relief

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Wellington, Missouri woman had terrible pain for two years. Then she found a newer way to get relief that doesn't involve surgery or pain medicine.

Linda Braxdale had back and hip surgery. Then she broke her thigh bone. She had debilitating pain down that leg.

"I couldn't sleep at night. It was just terrible," said Braxdale.

She was referred to Dr. Michael Gaume, a pain specialist at Saint Luke's Hospital. He suspected the pain was coming from her hip. As a test, he gave her two shots of lidocaine there.

"To have the relief that I had was unbelievable," said Braxdale.

Dr. Gaume added, "I thought she was hurting more and she said no, these are tears of joy."

That told him Braxdale would benefit from a longer-term solution called COOLIEF. A needle-like probe delivers radiofrequency energy to nerves. In Braxdale's case, it zapped two nerves in her hip. Water runs through the probe to keep the tip cool.

"We're able to make a larger lesion. We're able to get those nerves where before we would miss 'em when we'd use the old traditional radiofrequency ablation," said Dr. Gaume.

He says with the nerves knocked out, they stop sending pain impulses to the brain. It takes about two weeks to feel relief.

"To be able to go to bed and not be awakened when you move because your leg hurts, it was phenomenal," said Braxdale.

She says it still is. Her procedure was in September. Dr. Gaume says patients can expect pain relief greater than 50 percent for an average of 10 months. The procedure can be done again.

" I don't have the fear that it's gonna come back because I know I can go and Dr. Gaume is gonna take care of me again," said Braxdale.

She's getting physical therapy, too, and intends to get rid of her cane.

The pain specialist says besides the hips, COOLIEF can be used on the lower back, knees and neck. Insurance covers it.