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Do bone growth stimulator's really work

YankeeYankee Posts: 108
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:38 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
My NS has prescribed something called a external bone growth stimulator for me to use. I googled them in a attempt to understand their use but very little information was found other then they cost $3000-$5000 (that's alot of money) I assume because this device will be prescribed to me my insurance will cover the bill (I HOPE). Anyway, has anyone here used such a device and does it really work? thanks for your answers!
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Comments

  • Yankee,
    I used a bone growth stimulator and we thought it was helping but then developed psuedoarthrosis. I suspect your surgeon wants this to encourage bone growth since you are a smoker. You may want to check and see if you insurance needs a prior approval before ordering the device. I think the most important thing is the stimulator needs to be used from the beginning, which I consider you still in that time frame. I see to many getting them months later once they realize the bone has stopped growing, which I don't think the bone has much chance at that point.
  • Since I have a 3 level, am 59 and am borderline diabetic my insurance should cover mine.

    Mine is a cervical bone stimultor and cost $5800. My insurance turned me down the first time around because they thought I'd asked for it not the doctor. I didn't even know what one was. The ortho rep went to bat for me and got a letter from my doctor so it should be covered now.

    I don't know if it has helped me fuse but my Cat scan showed I am fusing and I'm 3 months now so that's good.

    Mine gave me pain in my back so I learned to pinch the back together put a towel under it so it didn't dig into my back and to split the 4 hours into 3 sessions.

    Good luck with yours
  • The bone growth stimulator my NS prescribed for me arrived today. The nurse that brought the device to me said my insurance covered the $5000. cost with no problem. Also, the company that sells the unit even paid the co pay for me. With it hanging over my neck and chest along with the neck brace and flashy lights I now look like Darth Vader! I am ready for halloween! LOL!
  • tamtam said:
    I used a bone growth stimulator and we thought it was helping but then developed psuedoarthrosis. I think the most important thing is the stimulator needs to be used from the beginning. I see to many getting them months later once they realize the bone has stopped growing, which I don't think the bone has much chance at that point. (edited to those areas of interest for me)
    Howdy Tamtam,

    I had an MRI (due to recurrent symptoms) at the 8 week mark for my neck. It showed the top portion of the graph either "pulled" apart, or didn't /isn't fusing. I was then put on a bone stimulator. I have now been using it for a week and a half for 4 hours a day. What are your thoughts? Is a little over 2 months to start using one going to help? Of course, I have no clue if this is working or not. :-)

    My prior fusion at the C5/6 level went smooth as silk, this latest is the C6/7 level - so far "not so smooth."

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda,

    You are typically the person who these are ordered for unless you are a smoker or a multi-level fusion. Once they think something maybe going wrong with the fusion, the stimulator is ordered. Will it work? I sure hope so. The revision surgery is much harder on you. In you situation I would do everything possible to help your the bone fuse(I.E. walking, eating correctly, eliminate caffeine). While my suggestions are subjective, I would try anything that is natural to encourage bone growth, to avoid the future surgery.

    I used the stimulator for 6 months religiously and ended with psuedo. In my case the bone looked like It was fused but actually was jointed back to the cord. A Ct scan revealed that it truly wasn't fused. You may still be earlier enough that it will started fusing again.

    On a side note if you all feel a little discomfort from the stimulators that is possible. Hang with it, it lightens up. Although you really can't tell it the stimulator causes movement at those areas. So even if you feel some additional pain from using it, don't stop if the surgeon ordered it for you, then you need it. Now if it causes extreme pain call your surgeon and speak with him/her.
  • tamtam said:
    Brenda,

    You are typically the person who these are ordered for unless you are a smoker or a multi-level fusion. Once they think something maybe going wrong with the fusion, the stimulator is ordered. Will it work? I sure hope so. The revision surgery is much harder on you. In you situation I would do everything possible to help your the bone fuse(I.E. walking, eating correctly, eliminate caffeine). While my suggestions are subjective, I would try anything that is natural to encourage bone growth, to avoid the future surgery.

    I used the stimulator for 6 months religiously and ended with psuedo. In my case the bone looked like It was fused but actually was jointed back to the cord. A Ct scan revealed that it truly wasn't fused. You may still be earlier enough that it will started fusing again.

    Tamtam,

    Thanks so much for your prompt reply to my questions. I looked at the MRI image again for the fusion separation area and it is rough/jagged in appearance. This makes (me) feel that it might have started to fuse and then pulled apart? Time will tell there. I learned a new word today with your post as well (psuedo). That doesn't sound good at all. Any idea at what point they decide the fusion isn't going to take? I now feel that the "pop" I felt around the 5 week mark (my hubby even heard it!!!) might have been the fusion that had started coming apart on the top. Once that happened my strength I had regained after surgery went, and the numbness came back even more. Pain followed right with it - but the hard collar and stim seem to have put a stop on most of the pain. :-) The rest didn't improve.

    As a side note, except for feeling like I am wearing an odd necklace from Woodstock, I have had no ill effects from using the bone stimulator. No discomfort, headaches - all good there so far.

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Aviatrix36440 said:
    tamtam said:
    Brenda,
    Dont scare me like that! LOL I tought you folks were talking about me when you said they think something is going wrong with my fusion. then I thought to myself I just had the surgery only 9 days ago! they havent even done my first folowup visit yet!
    You are typically the person who these are ordered for unless you are a smoker or a multi-level fusion. Once they think something maybe going wrong with the fusion, the stimulator is ordered. Will it work? I sure hope so. The revision surgery is much harder on you. In you situation I would do everything possible to help your the bone fuse(I.E. walking, eating correctly, eliminate caffeine). While my suggestions are subjective, I would try anything that is natural to encourage bone growth, to avoid the future surgery.

    I used the stimulator for 6 months religiously and ended with psuedo. In my case the bone looked like It was fused but actually was jointed back to the cord. A Ct scan revealed that it truly wasn't fused. You may still be earlier enough that it will started fusing again.



    Tamtam,

    Thanks so much for your prompt reply to my questions. I looked at the MRI image again for the fusion separation area and it is rough/jagged in appearance. This makes (me) feel that it might have started to fuse and then pulled apart? Time will tell there. I learned a new word today with your post as well (psuedo). That doesn't sound good at all. Any idea at what point they decide the fusion isn't going to take? I now feel that the "pop" I felt around the 5 week mark (my hubby even heard it!!!) might have been the fusion that had started coming apart on the top. Once that happened my strength I had regained after surgery went, and the numbness came back even more. Pain followed right with it - but the hard collar and stim seem to have put a stop on most of the pain. :-) The rest didn't improve.

    As a side note, except for feeling like I am wearing an odd necklace from Woodstock, I have had no ill effects from using the bone stimulator. No discomfort, headaches - all good there so far.

    Brenda
  • Aviatrix36440 said:
    tamtam said:
    I used a bone growth stimulator and we thought it was helping but then developed psuedoarthrosis. I think the most important thing is the stimulator needs to be used from the beginning. I see to many getting them months later once they realize the bone has stopped growing, which I don't think the bone has much chance at that point. (edited to those areas of interest for me)


    Howdy Tamtam,

    I had an MRI (due to recurrent symptoms) at the 8 week mark for my neck. It showed the top portion of the graph either "pulled" apart, or didn't /isn't fusing. I was then put on a bone stimulator. I have now been using it for a week and a half for 4 hours a day. What are your thoughts? Is a little over 2 months to start using one going to help? Of course, I have no clue if this is working or not. :-)

    My prior fusion at the C5/6 level went smooth as silk, this latest is the C6/7 level - so far "not so smooth."

    Brenda
    I'm sorry if you were confused as to "whom" this discussion was directed at. As you can see, I was asking Tamtam specific questions concerning "later use" of the bone stimulator. I am the one that got put on one as I passed the 8th week post op. The top of my graph is not fusing, hence I wanted to see what someone who has knowledge of the use of bone stims thought. Sorry if you thought we meant you.

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I'll join you greeting the kiddies in our new attire. I hope my company picks up the co pay!
  • The costs of these things are crazy, aren't they? Mine supposedly lists for $3300 and should be covered by insurance, but after doing a search on eBay I've seen the exact same one for like $100, and there are several of them listed. But I'm not here to debate the inflated cost of medical devices or care. If that's what it takes to obtain a solid fusion, at this point I am willing to try just about anything.

    Just over six weeks ago I underwent my second lumbar fusion surgery attempt (L3 thru S1). The first one in 2001 resulted in a non union at all levels. Having been through this once before I pretty much knew what i was in for and did extensive research in hopes of increasing my odds at obtaining a successful fusion.

    One of the things I learned about in my research was the bone stimulator so I asked my OS to request one. I received it 4 weeks post (about 2 weeks ago) and am to wear it 4 hours a day, just as others here indicate.

    Having had back issues for many years now I am quite familiar with this website and have navigated to it many times for answers. i found this thread after Googling, Bone Stimulator's, Do They Work?". What I am finding though is there is not a lot of information out there about them, good or bad. I of course am going to wear it religiously, but it sure would be nice to hear som more success stories in regards to them.
  • Howdy! I was put on one after the top of my latest fusion (top) broke lose - at the 2 month post op mark. I have NO clue if it is working or not. I have an appointment with my NS tomorrow, might have some answers. I am using mine per direction 4 hours a day. No bad reactions with it or anything, so hopefully something "good" is going on in there with it!!! Yeah...not cheap at all!!!!

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I understand they are only effective if used soon after surgery. I talked to the company and they said the later after surgery yo use them the less effective they are. I started using mine at about one week post opp. I use it 4 hours a day. I understand the technology behind these units But sometimes I think voodoo medicine if you know what I mean?. I am willing to try anything for a good fusion as long as the insurance company pays for it!. I have the money to buy the device myself but I dont think I would have written them a $5000. check for it. I think there's about $35.00 worth of parts in it. I do know this. when my treatment is done I am going to open the device and see if I can use it as a MP3 player!
  • Yankee said:
    I understand they are only effective if used soon after surgery. I talked to the company and they said the later after surgery yo use them the less effective they are. I started using mine at about one week post opp. I use it 4 hours a day. I understand the technology behind these units But sometimes I think voodoo medicine if you know what I mean?. I am willing to try anything for a good fusion as long as the insurance company pays for it!. I have the money to buy the device myself but I dont think I would have written them a $5000. check for it. I think there's about $35.00 worth of parts in it. I do know this. when my treatment is done I am going to open the device and see if I can use it as a MP3 player!
    Nodding I heard the same Yankee... even the rep that came to my house to "fit and teach me" how to use it said that. She asked me when my surgery was, and I told her, I also advised her that the fusion issues came up like 3 weeks prior. She said "it should work for you", but they should have started it soon after surgery since you went from one level to two - and too it was additional to the other. I am trying to stay positive, but don't know. Fingers crossed as they say. Granted timeline from the "break" of the fusion might be good, but the surface (per the MRI) is very ragged...so don't know).

    I also agree with you Yankee, the cost is waaaaayyyy high based on the parts. As long as the insurance will pay, fine, me... yeah like you I could afford it too, but not sure if I would put my own dime to it. Who knows, I might get lucky!!!

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • yes it relly works i never fused after my 1st surgery now i am fusing i wear it for 4 hours a day and it does help i even run errands with it on i donot care focusing on to better my self!! sfter a 4 level fusion and am als a smoker since i reall do not sleep@@
  • I have seen those things on ebay as well for sale. However, I was told that the company gets information from the surgeon then it is programmed for your specific needs. Also my understanding is that after so long it is no good. So for example i still have mine sitting around here from 06', but was told that it is of no use anymore as it had a pre-set program and in it. I have turned it on and it still comes on but apparently it won't do anything anymore. The only reason I write this is in case someone is reading this thread and they are thinking about buying one off ebay? Before I would do something like that I would check the facts, as I was told those may not work.
  • tamtam said:
    I have seen those things on ebay as well for sale. However, I was told that the company gets information from the surgeon then it is programmed for your specific needs. Also my understanding is that after so long it is no good. So for example i still have mine sitting around here from 06', but was told that it is of no use anymore as it had a pre-set program and in it. I have turned it on and it still comes on but apparently it won't do anything anymore. The only reason I write this is in case someone is reading this thread and they are thinking about buying one off ebay? Before I would do something like that I would check the facts, as I was told those may not work.
    I wondered that myself!. I dont know about all the models but the factory for mine said the only thing that wares out is the rechargeable battery. I have however found a way to test them to see if they are really working. turn your unit on and hold it near a phone the magnetic signals from these devices produces clicking sounds on phones even on cell phones. I think if a person could find a unit in their local area for sale they could at least use this as a test to see if it works. I wouldn't buy one however if the seller lived too far away and had to ship it to me. As far as the battery's I checked again with the one that made my unit they stated the battery is a standard rechargeable one and is used in many products. They stated to me it could be found at the retail level. My unit is not programed for a usable lifetime but it will only run for 4 hours each 24 hours. tamtam it would be interesting if that when you have the time turn on that unit you have and try the phone test. I would be interested to know if you can hear any of the clicking signals I spoke about. THANKS!
  • Aviatrix36440 said:
    Howdy! I was put on one after the top of my latest fusion (top) broke lose - at the 2 month post op mark. I have NO clue if it is working or not. I have an appointment with my NS tomorrow, might have some answers. I am using mine per direction 4 hours a day. No bad reactions with it or anything, so hopefully something "good" is going on in there with it!!! Yeah...not cheap at all!!!!
    Whelps... so far no change in my fusion status! Sigh... It's been over a month, so not too happy there. As directed I will continue my stim sessions! :-)

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Mine too only works for 4 hours in a 24 hour period. Think it resets like 2am or something, not sure. I do know that the timer resets to 4 hours if you shut it off before the first hour has run through, so in essence if one wanted to use it for more than 4 hours in a 24 hour period all one has to do is keep shutting it off and back on again before the first hour completes. With that in mind, for what reason is the time limited I wonder? And are there any benefits / drawbacks to using it longer?

    I asked my OS for the stimulator the day after my surgery while I was still in the hospital, but didn't get it until 4 weeks post-op due to insurance paperwork / approval. I sure hope this didn't ruin my chances of gaining the benefits it claims to offer :-\
  • I received this per my doctors orders about 4 weeks after my c5-c7 surgery. My surgery was August 20th. A representative came out to my house to tell me about it, gave me 12 rechargeable batteries, showed me how to use etc. I was pretty impressed with this level of service -- yes the device is expensive but I only had to pay about $180 after insurance covered it. I only have to wear it for 30 minutes a day (not 4 hours)-- yes it is preprogrammed for this amount of time and it does expire after so many uses -- so if you want to purchase one on ebay you better make sure the usage hasn't "run out." I have no idea if it is working as we all know this process of recovery takes a little while, but I feel great. One thing that is an issue is that my husband has a pacemaker. The representative said when using it I had to be in a separate room -- magnetic fields are not good for people with pacemakers. This is just an fyi, and something I didn't realize.
  • laurabrks said:
    I received this per my doctors orders about 4 weeks after my c5-c7 surgery. My surgery was August 20th. A representative came out to my house to tell me about it, gave me 12 rechargeable batteries, showed me how to use etc. I was pretty impressed with this level of service -- yes the device is expensive but I only had to pay about $180 after insurance covered it. I only have to wear it for 30 minutes a day (not 4 hours)-- yes it is preprogrammed for this amount of time and it does expire after so many uses -- so if you want to purchase one on ebay you better make sure the usage hasn't "run out." I have no idea if it is working as we all know this process of recovery takes a little while, but I feel great. One thing that is an issue is that my husband has a pacemaker. The representative said when using it I had to be in a separate room -- magnetic fields are not good for people with pacemakers. This is just an fyi, and something I didn't realize.
    WOW only 30 min.! It must be supper charged!
  • Maybe mine is just a different kind of device -- it looks like a big frisbee. I do have to use it for 9 months. BTW, don't know if you found this out but it won't start until it has been precisely 24 hrs since the last time you used it. I made a mistake and started using it late at night 11:30 or so, now I can't get it to start any earlier, my husband has found me several time asleep with it on, now that's a funny visual isn't it?
  • I read that your body repairs itself better as you sleep. Who knows the stimulator might be more effective as you sleep
  • Yankee said:
    I read that your body repairs itself better as you sleep. Who knows the stimulator might be more effective as you sleep
    Yankee...I have tried to take a nap with that puppy on - worse than the collar for me! I had to turn it off, take my nap, and finish when I got up. Good thought though!!

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I went for my post op visit on 11/23 and per the xrays everything looks good so far with the fusion at C5 C6 but the doctor did order a bone stimulator he said to just try everything possible. The bone stimulator was delivered yesterday and today will be the first day wearing it so we will see how it goes. So far I have tightness in my neck and inbetween my shoulder blades sometimes painful but hopefully that will go away in time and the doc said it was normal keeping my fingers crossed at 3 weeks post op :)
  • Bone growth and spinal fusion stimulation applies electromagnetic energy to a fracture or fusion site in order to encourage and/or accelerate bone growth and bone healing. In the event of bone fractures and damage, growth factors released at the site of injury begin the healing process by stimulating osteoblasts, fibroblasts, endothelial, and other specialized cells to in order to restore tissue to its original strength and shape. Bone generates its own piezoelectric current, and once bone has been traumatized, it responds positively when electromagnetic energy is applied to it in order to speed up the healing process. In healthy individuals, this response happens naturally without the aid of medical technology but may be compromised under a number of conditions depending upon the severity of the fracture, any concomitant health conditions of the patient, smoking habits of the patient, obesity, advanced age, and the area where the fracture occurred.

    Manufacturers and independent researchers have devoted more energy into researching the method of action behind electrical stimulation on musculoskeletal and other types of tissues, including stem cells. Bone growth and spinal fusion stimulators are used now as an adjunct to external or internal surgical fixation of the bone as well as casting and bracing.

    Types of Stimulators:

    Based on the surgeon's preference, or if the patient has risk factors for fusion, an electrical bone growth stimulator may be used as an adjunct to spinal fusion surgery to help enhance the chances of achieving a successful bone fusion.

    Bone stimulators can either be implanted under the skin (internal) or worn on the outside of the skin (external):

    External Stimulators

    Pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) stimulators, such as those from Orthofix and EBI, deliver low energy signals in specific amplitudes, repetitions, and duration to the patient's bone tissues. PEMF stimulators are always noninvasive and they use an electrical coil to transform battery power or household current into pulsed currents that are delivered via the stimulator's treatment head to the fracture or fusion site.

    Capacitive coupling (CC) systems, namely EBI's Bioelectron OrthoPak and SpinalPak, deliver a constant current via electrode pads that are affixed to the skin above the fracture or fusion site. The pads are kept in place 24 hours a day in order to deliver a continuous treatment.

    OrthoLogic's combined magnetic field (CMF) technology is an alternative to traditional PEMF since it combines a dynamic magnetic field with an underlying static magnetic field to form an evenly distributed electric current for application to the fracture or fusion site. The design of the CMF stimulator is similar to PEMF stimulators in that it uses an external coil system. Smith & Nephew's Exogen systems use pulsed ultrasound delivered by an externally applied transducer to stimulate fracture healing. The length of treatment is based on the nature of the fracture or fusion, the health of the patient, and other determinations made by the physician.

    Product Trends:

    External systems depend a great deal on patient compliance, so manufacturers are actively developing designs that are smaller, lighter, and require less daily treatment time in order to encourage compliance. The vast majority of bone growth and spinal fusion stimulators sold are external designs and they are preferred since they do not require surgery for use. This benefit is more relevant to the treatment of patients suffering from nonunion or delayed union fractures since they do not always require surgery for treatment as compared to spinal fusion patients receiving stimulation who all undergo surgery thereby giving the physician an opportunity to implant a stimulator.
    Implantable Stimulators

    Implantable bone growth stimulators and spinal fusion stimulators are surgically implanted at either the fracture or fusion site and constantly deliver direct current stimulation for up to six to twelve months at which point the device can be removed in an outpatient operation. Many surgeons and patients often elect to simply leave the device implanted. The device is small and consists of a pulse generator containing a lithium battery attached to one or two wire cathodes which deliver the current to the fracture or fusion site. Implantable stimulators can be used in conjunction with bone graft, fixation instrumentation, and inter-body devices in order to provide adjunctive treatment for patients at risk for non-fusion. Implantable stimulators offer the benefit of consistent, uniform current to the fracture or fusion site and because the system is surgically implanted and automatic, patient compliance is not an issue. Costs for the systems are higher than external stimulators since their need for surgical implantation and explantation gives hospitals the opportunity to mark-up prices for the systems. Manufacturers and surgeons do not exactly know how direct current stimulators help to encourage bone growth, but research has shown that it enhances the promotion and formation of bone-forming osteoblast cells and inhibits the activity of bone-absorbing cells called osteoclasts.
    Conclusion:

    Opinions about bone growth and spinal fusion stimulation vary dramatically from physician to physician. Many physicians have expressed the opinion that stimulation can be very beneficial for certain patients and then hardly beneficial at all for others leaving room for many questions regarding proper patient selection and application. An ongoing argument between competitors in the market relates to the duration and intensity (dosage).

    Apparently greater research needs to be performed on the mechanism of action behind bone growth stimulation in order to determine which approach is valid. With the increasing number of spinal fusion procedures, favourable reimbursement for bone growth stimulation and better designs to improve patient compliance along with more published clinical studies, the market for bone growth and spinal fusion stimulators is all set to revolutionize the orthopaedic market globally.

  • long past on reply...hope it worked...yea they do have internal timers so anyone reading this may not want to buy off ebay.. mine stops working after 400 days...i don't know if this means from first activation or use..but I wear mine avg 17 hours a day ..serious shattering of my fibula and tibia..but since I'm only 21 days into treatment... ill try to remember to update
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