Freezing knee pain away

Published: January 9, 2017 By: Dee Russell
Jeremy Coleman, MD, is the only provider in the area using iovera°, a non-surgical treatment that harnesses cold therapy to relieve chronic knee pain. View Larger Image

Jeremy Coleman, MD, is the only provider in the area using iovera°, a non-surgical treatment that harnesses cold therapy to relieve chronic knee pain.

There aren’t many things that can knock 37-year-old Dwayne Glasgow off his feet. One was the moment he became a father for the first time to twins. The other was his agonizing knee pain.

Glasgow’s life completely changed when Delson and Asia were born Feb. 12, 2015. The first time he saw them his heart immediately grew, but so did his concern for his knees.

“I remember thinking it was going to be a lot of work, but it was going to be worth it to have the extra love in our house,” Glasgow said.

Glasgow spent half his life living with persistent knee pain. The aches began in 1997 right after he graduated from high school and joined the U.S. Army. Almost two decades later, his stiff and sore knees became significantly worse.

“Anytime I overdid it, it would take anywhere between two days to a week before I was able to get up and do anything again,” Glasgow said. “After the kids were born, I had no choice but to work through the pain, and it was horrible.”

That motivated the new father to see Jeremy Coleman, MD, the medical director and primary care physician at the UF Health Family Medicine – Yulee practice. Coleman diagnosed Glasgow with moderate osteoarthritis after X-rays showed signs of space narrowing in his joints. Osteoarthritis, or OA, is the most common chronic condition of the joints.

“I have young kids as well, and I know the importance of being active and pain free,” Coleman said. “Anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroid injections were ineffective for him, and chronic opioids are not preferred in light of short- and long-term risks. So another pain-relieving modality was offered.”

Glasgow became one of Coleman’s first patients in this area to receive iovera°, a non-surgical treatment that harnesses cold therapy to relieve pain. Using nitrous oxide, iovera° freezes tiny needles to minus 126 degrees. Once injected into the skin, the cold therapy disrupts the targeted sensory nerves around the knee — preventing them from sending pain signals to the brain.

“This is an in-office procedure that takes 20 to 25 minutes to complete. It is relatively pain free and can last from three to six months,” Coleman said. “It is not a cure for OA, but it is a pain-relieving option.”

Local anesthesia is applied to the knees before the iovera° instrument is inserted, but patients may still feel a slight tingling sensation when the cold treatment disrupts the nerve. The pain relief provided by iovera° is temporary and will return once the nerves grow back.

“The relief I received from cortisone shots only lasted a week. After a week went by and I still didn’t feel pain, I knew this was different,” Glasgow said.

The Food and Drug Administration approved iovera° for pain. Coleman is one of only three physicians in Florida, and the only one in the Jacksonville area, offering the treatment. Right now, iovera° is only administered at the UF Health Family Medicine – Yulee practice, but there are plans to extend the treatment to UF Health North later this year.

“Glasgow may ultimately need a knee replacement, but for now iovera° has given him his life back,” Coleman said.

The cold therapy allows Glasgow to forget about the knee pain that once left him frozen in his tracks to fully focus on the joys of fatherhood.

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