Bone Stimulators – An adjunct for bone healing

Earlier this month we blogged about the ankle fracture Derek Jeter sustained on the Yankees way out of the playoff picture. Bone stimulators were one of the modalities we mentioned that can be used to improve healing.  This type of adjunct is likely implemented immediately to speed up the healing process for professional athletes like for Major League Baseball players.  As for those of us who rely on our health insurance to defer our costs, bone stimulators are typically only deemed necessary in three cases.

  1. Delayed union – fractures that do not heal over the typical six to eight weeks
  2. Non-union – defined by the FDA at a fracture present for nine months, without any change after three months
  3. High risk fusion – fusion of a joint is often the best choice for painful degenerative problems of the joint.  Diabetes, poor blood flow, or a history of smoking can all place you in the ‘high risk’ category when it comes to bone healing.

When it comes to using a bone stimulator, there are two main types: electric and ultrasound. The units that deliver either electric or sound waves to the bone are small in size and easy to apply and utilize. The newest generation of these devices is applied over a cast without any modifications.  Immobilization continues to be important as the simulator works to activate bone growth and the modalities either electric or ultrasonic are not inhibited by the casting materials.

The conditions or activities that place you at high risk for proper bone healing during a fusion are some of the same that can complicate bone healing in general. Small gaps can be treated with bone stimulators where as larger spaces may require surgical intervention. The best way to avoid these delays in healing it is important to follow your doctors instructions.  Slower healing as we age is something you cannot control, but keeping weight of the fracture site and maintaining proper nutrition are easy steps you can take to allow proper healing.  When the bones do not heal with normal care, your Austin podiatrist will discuss the best option to allow complete healing.

Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy Austin!

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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