Features April 2013 Issue

Using Electrical Stimulation to Heal Broken Bones

Electrical bone stimulators are safe and effective for some patients with hard-to-heal fractures.

The use of electrical bone stimulators gets little attention in current medical literature, but has been studied for 25 years. It is a viable and relatively safe option that may promote bone growth and accelerate the healing process in difficult cases. “Electrical stimulation is one of several therapies your doctor may use to stimulate bone growth in order to promote better fracture healing,” says Cleveland Clinic orthopaedic surgeon Brian G. Donley, MD. “It is used in patients who have a higher risk of bone fractures that do not heal, such as smokers, diabetics, and those with a previous history on a non-healing (non-union) fracture or bone fusion.” A bone that breaks usually has the ability to mend itself within a few months, but in some cases it doesn’t.

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