Cryoneurolysis involves inserting small icy crystals into painful areas to burn the outer layer of damaged nerves.
There’s good news for those who suffer from nerve damage: a New York scientist has successfully piloted a treatment called cryoneurolysis to significantly reduce chronic pain by inserting tiny, icy nodules into affected areas, freezing the outer layers of nerves to relieve pain for up to two months.
William Moore, M.D., medical director of radiology at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, will present his research at this week’s Society of Interventional Radiology Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans. Moore says that his procedure, tested on 20 patients, could dramatically ease the suffering of the 15 million Americans with nerve damage, or neuralgia.
Neuralgia occurs when nerves constantly react as though a stimulus were present, such as pressure, when there really isn’t anything there. People who recover from shingles, for example, sometimes experience nerve pain well after they recover from the sickness itself.
A tiny probe the size of an IV needle is inserted into the skin in the painful area. Blood is drawn and tiny crystals measuring 10 to -16 degrees are slowly released, effectively freezer-burning the outer layer of the damaged nerves and reducing pain from about an eight out of 10 to 2.4 out of 10.
The damaged nerves do grow back, and some amount of pain returns, so patients must receive multiple treatments to keep the pain at bay.
“We are continuing the study with a total goal of 125 patients,” Moore tells Healthline. His initial study was small, but the results are encouraging.
It’s important to note that Moore’s research is in the early stages, and that his treatment may only work on certain types of nerve damage, specifically damage resulting from injury, diabetes, or surgery.
“This research only focuses on nerve-related pain,” Moore said. “The mechanism for other injuries is complex and might not be applicable to this research.”
As for undergoing cryoneurolosis treatment, Moore offers the following advice:
“In order to have success in controlling the patient’s pain, this procedure requires an excellent working relationship with the patient, the pain management expert, and the interventional radiologist.”