Sound found to help bones heal faster
Posted November 3, 2010 5:30 p.m. EDT
Updated November 3, 2010 6:32 p.m. EDT
Kathleen Lunz-Gewirtz is glad to be walking again. She slipped on ice outside her home last year, breaking her lower leg in two places.
"The pain was excruciating, I've had three children. I’ve had a C-section, and this pain was worse than having three babies,” Lunz-Gerwitz said.
Doctors put a plate and several screws in her leg, but after a year on crutches, the bone was not healing properly. She was facing the possibility of another major surgery when doctors decided to try a simple device that uses sound to help the body heal faster.
"To me, it was like a last resort before trying more surgery,” Lunz-Gewirtz said.
Called the Exogen 2000, the device gives off ultrasound waves, and studies show the pulses of sound can significantly speed up the healing of broken bones.
Dr. Elton Strauss, an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center’s School of Medicine, uses ultrasound on patients whose fractures won't heal. He says the sound waves stimulate cells, causing them to regenerate.
"We have found that 20 minutes a day will stimulate the bone cell just enough that it will heal even the most difficult fracture,” Strauss said.
A recent study shows that patients who use ultrasound build up more bone density in the fracture area.
Lunz-Gewirtz been using ultrasound treatment at home for about five months and says she sees a big improvement.
She's not 100 percent yet, but she's back at work, and doctors think she'll be able to avoid another surgery.
Doctors say ultrasound is not just beneficial for severe breaks. In some cases, it can help runners who have stress fractures.