Recently I spotted this: a short and not very detailed article about freezing nerves to quiet persistent knee pain.
The treatment, called Iovera, uses nitrous oxide canisters to freeze tiny needles to minus 126 degrees. Once injected into the skin, the needles freeze the nerves that are firing off pain signals. Apparently, instant relief follows.
I like that phrasing: “instant relief.” It sounds so uncomplicated. If only!
The problem is, nerves are generally useful, even when bearing bad news (i.e. tidings of pain in this case). The best thing is not to shoot the messenger, but rather work to change the message!
The downside of numbing nerves (whether using this method or taking pain pills or undergoing serious joint icing) is that you may not get some helpful pain signals that would prompt you to avoid activities that are simply bad for your particular joints. There’s a tradeoff, for sure.
But, to be fair, there are times when overactive nerves may be a problem in and of themselves. They may go renegade and start relaying sensations that are not consistent with any damage being done (or NOT being done for that matter).
All of which is my way of trying to strike a nuanced stance here: Freezing nerves doesn't have to be a bad thing. But I’d think it over long and hard first.