November 17, 2018
Boy with an arm in plaster
Wellness Tip

Don't Count on Bone Stimulators to Heal Bones

by Berkeley Wellness  

Don’t expect low-intensity pulsed ultrasound treatments to accelerate healing of fractured bones. Though they are FDA-approved and are prescribed by some orthopedists, such “bone stimulators” work no better than a placebo device, according to a well-designed multicenter clinical trial in the journal BMJ, which involved 500 people who underwent surgical repair for a fracture of the tibia (lower leg bone).

Participants who were assigned daily self-treatment with the ultrasound device healed no faster than those using the sham device, as seen on X-rays, nor did they regain physical function sooner.

As with many FDA-approved medical devices, “widespread use does not assure effectiveness,” which can be determined only by large randomized clinical trials by independent investigators, such as this one, the researchers noted. Such research is also need for other types of bone stimulators, such as those using pulsed electomagnetic energy.

Also see Beware of "FDA-Approved" Claims.