Our bones are some of the most important parts of the human body with the ability to mend and heal itself when injury occurs. It is in the same way that skin and muscles in the body can repair itself once there is a wound or break in their tissues. With bone fractures, the bone will undergo different processes of healing until a solid union of bones is completed. However, sometimes the formation of calcium to heal fractured bones is altered because scar tissues tend to fill the gap where the fractured bone was expected to join. Therefore, instead of the scar growing on the surface of the fractured bone to join two bones, the scar grows at the tip of the bones which can lengthen the duration of healing. This is why experts on bone fractures have devised bone healing system that would promote healthy bone growth and repair during the times normal bone growth is altered.
Phases of Fracture Healing
Healing of fractures undergoes different phases or stages. The length of each phase depends on the extent of the damage to the bone but the usual margin for healing is two to three weeks for the upper bodily fractures and more than four weeks for lower bodily injury. The following are the three reparatory phases of bone fractures:
1. Reactive phase. This is the phase wherein the fracture began its inflammatory phase. Bone cells will accumulate into the fractured site and cluster together. This is also called the granulation tissue formation.
2. Reparative phase. There will be callus formation on the fractured region followed by lamellar or calcium bone deposition.
3. Remodeling phase. After the bone is completely healed of its fracture, bone contouring follows.
This phase can last many years until the original forms of the bones is achieved.
Methods of Treatment
So far, the FDA has already approved beneficial bone healing systems which are proven safe and effective methods since 1978 and some of the latest innovations are as follows:
• Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF)
This bone healing system is composed of a treatment coil that is included into the cast when the cast is being molded. The coil can also be placed directly on the skin over the area of the fractured part. The device can be programmed according to the patient’s needs for electrical current. This current will travel to the treatment coil and will produce pulsating electromagnetic field around the fractured area.
• Capacitive Coupling (CC)
This technology uses capacitive coupling technology and very beneficial for appendicular non-unions and spinal unions. The device has a miniature stimulator unit with protruding low profile electrodes and it is very light weight.
• Direct Current (DC)
As the name indicates, DC technology deals with the use of direct current on the bone. The device is a bone growth stimulator that is implanted on the bone itself during surgery. The small generator will be placed near the broken bone, this generator will be activated by one or two cathodes which are placed above the area of the injury, and the current is pumped through the generator stimulating the bone to grow new cells.
How these Healing Treatments Work:
• PEMF produces electromagnetic field or small electrical current the same as the electrical current our bodies produce during the initial stage of bone healing. The patient will not even be aware of the presence of a small gadget that is inside the cast so this bone healing system is now widely adopted and proven successful without any possible risk. Unlike other gadgets that require placement inside the skin, this device is non-invasive and has no side effects at all. Another good thing about this device is that it can be used on any fractured part of the body and very appropriate for bones that are hard to unite.
• The Capacitive Coupling is more adaptable for long bones that were broken because of trauma and have problems of non-union. It can be applied externally directly over the fusion site and there are models that are made specifically for primary lumbar bone fusion. It offers 24 hours treatment and the battery must be changed after that for the device to be effective. This small device can also be applied on all areas of the body that have fractures and because of its action- mechanism of releasing low voltage alternating current, the bone tend to produce flow of calcium ions into the osteoblasts (newly formed cells that form on the fractured site during bone healing).
• Direct Current has two direct current options. The first one is an implantable bone growth stimulator that can best suit long bone non-unions. The second model is an implantable device that is implanted during spinal fusions as an add-on for helping the spine to heal faster. When its function is completed, this can be removed through local surgery.
Bone healing with the use electrical stimulator is already an old technique in healing bones but it was only recently that scientists have invented the devices which they can incorporate with the patient’s fractured parts. If you have any question regarding bone growth stimulators, better ask a professional bone surgeon. Every now and then new technologies in the treatment of bone fractures occur. You can find this information on the internet too. Nevertheless, as an advice, if you have a bone fracture, always consult the doctor about the device before buying them.