Q:

How do bone growth stimulators work?

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Quick Answer

Bone growth stimulators enhance the natural healing process of bone by emitting low-level pulses of electromagnetic energy to the injured area or fusion site. They can also employ pulsed low-intensity ultrasonic energy. The device is strapped to an arm, leg or other body parts, or it can be placed over a cast or brace. It is available for use at home on a daily basis.

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Full Answer

Bones generate an electrical field when broken or bent. This low-level electrical field is the body's natural method of stimulating bone healing. When this healing fails to occur naturally, bone growth stimulators are used to aid in the process. These devices are essential to the success of any spinal fusion surgery.

During a spinal fusion, multiple bone fragments must heal together or fuse to create a solid bone. Fusion does not happen immediately at the time of surgery, but it is a process that occurs over time. Eventually, the bone growth process unites the bone graft pieces into one solid union of bone.

The Food and Drug Administration approves these devices for the treatment of nonunions, or damaged bones that do not heal over time. Therefore, most health insurance policies cover these procedures, according to Aetna.

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