Healthwatch: Minimally invasive procedure improves knee surgery recovery

Health Watch

Robert Rugg’s knees had been in pain for nearly three decades when he decided to get the joints replaced.

“Before the surgeries, I mean, it was difficult to walk,” Rugg said. “I mean, just to go to a grocery store I’d have to lean on a grocery cart.”

Rugg consulted his doctor at Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

“He was basically bone on bone,” Dr. Michael Schnaubelt, an Aurora BayCare Orthopedic Surgeon described. “He had a lot of stiffness with his knees, and just generalized pain with all activities.”

Rugg’s recovery from his first knee replacement was a lengthy process.

“It was like four months of therapy and five or six months before I actually had no pain,” he remembered.

To cut down on recovery time for Rugg’s second knee replacement, Dr. Schnaubelt recommended he undergo a minimally invasive treatment before the surgery.

“So basically we’re using a needle that’s attached to a nitrous oxide canister, so it gets really cold,” Dr. Schnaubelt explained, “and we inject that by some of the nerves right at the front of your knee and that basically freezes those nerves.”

It takes three to four months for the frozen nerves to recover.

“During that time period that nerve doesn’t transmit as many pain signals back to your brain,” Dr. Schnaubelt said.

The process allows patients like Rugg to recover with less pain.

“The healing time was minimal,” Rugg said. “Within a month I was up walking around with no pain. I actually went to two therapy sessions, that was it. Your rehab is so quick with it, it’s just a totally new life.”

Dr. Schnaubelt says those results are common in patients who receive the treatment.

“I’ve had several patients where I did their first knee replacement prior to us using this treatment and the second one after,” he said, “and almost every patient like that has said…it was much easier to recover from and much less painful.”

To learn more you can call Aurora BayCare at 866-938-0035 or email

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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