What is bone growth stimulation? When should I use it? Does it work?
Bone stimulation or electrical bone growth stimulators are a supplemental modality to help enhance the body’s bone healing process when a fracture has occurred, especially in the spine. When a doctor preforms a spinal fusion, the bone does not fuse right away and requires osteogenesis to help heal and form the solid fusion. Some people may be vulnerable to bone healing problems. For example, if you have had a previously failed spine fusion, smoke, have a diagnosis of Grade III (or worse) spondylolisthesis, osteoporosis, vascular disease, obesity, diabetes, renal disease, alcoholism, and medications that deplete calcium are some problems or diagnosis that would benefit from using a bone growth stimulator.
There are two different types of bone growth stimulators: a pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF), or low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS). Not only are their two types but these devices can be internally implanted or used externally. PEMF and LIPUS bone stimulators work at a molecular, cellular, and tissue level. A signal activates bone growth signaling pathways, which enhances bone formation by increasing both the population and maturity of the bone building cells. At the tissue level this leads to stronger, higher density bone. The result of these molecular, cellular and tissue processes is improved healing rates of a nonunion fracture or fusion. As of right now research is still needed for evidence on which one is better. However, research does state that both types of bone growth stimulators can speed up the healing process.