Correcting arthritis in the knee: Non-invasive bone growth stimulators such as magnetic or ultrasound treatments found to improve pain, quality of life
03/07/2019 // David Williams // Views

Osteoarthritis of the knee is one of the most pervasive and worrisome conditions that seems to affect many older individuals. This should be no surprise, since it is well-known that millions of people deal with some form of arthritis every single day. That's why the search for better and more effective cures is still ongoing.

As part of this search, a group of researchers from the United States has recently conducted a study on the effects of using bone growth stimulators for the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. The researchers found the motivation to explore the possibilities from the fact that there is evidence that osteoarthritis is mainly a disease of subchondral bone, which can be changed by using bone growth stimulators to change the contained fibrous tissue.

First, the researchers gathered ten patients and confirmed that each of them had osteorarthritis of the knee. All of them were subjected to pain and quality of life assessments on three different independent scales before and after they were treated with non-invasive bone growth stimulators. Eight of them received treatment in the form of ultrasound technology, one of them was treated with pulsed electromagnetic fields, and the last one was treated with combined magnetic fields.

What the researchers found was that all the three technologies of ultrasound, pulsed electromagnetic fields, and combined magnetic fields were highly effective. In particular, nine out of the eleven statistical tests that were done on three independent scales for ultrasound showed a high level of significance. Meanwhile, the study participants who received treatment through the use of pulsed electromagnetic fields and combined magnetic fields experienced greater than 80 percent improvement for their comprehensive scores on all the three different scales of measurement.


For a pilot study, the researchers remarked that the results they got are "highly encouraging" given the fact that they found "such a high level of statistical significance with such a small sample size." The results are in line with what they earlier hypothesized, which include possible effects of remodeling of the subchondral bone in osteoarthritis of the knee, such as decreased venous congestion, decreased intraosseous pressure, decreased fibrosis, improved capillary flow, improved nutrition, and decreased pain. The researchers also hypothesized that since bone growth stimulators use a number of different signal patterns to achieve the same outcome in the treatment of fracture non-union, the different technologies used for bone growth stimulation would deliver pretty much the same results. And they were correct in this hypothesis as well.

Since this study marks the first ever clinical use of bone growth stimulators for osteoarthritis of the knee, it can be used as the basis for future studies that look more deeply into the topic. And as the researchers themselves have also noted, "There are many directions for future study that can be investigated. These include larger sample sizes, more rigorous inclusion of the various technologies of bone growth stimulators, imaging correlation, concurrent biomarker measurements, and mechanistic studies."

In other words, their findings from just this one study could be enough to trigger more in-depth research that considers or uncovers other possibilities that could have been so far overlooked. That can only be good for those who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee daily, as it could lead to better forms of treatment in the future.

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