LIPUS

(Low-in­ten­sity Pulsed Ul­tra­sonic Bone Stim­u­la­tion)

Runner's World (UK) - - Injury Treatment -

WHAT IS IT?

Ul­tra­sonic waves ac­ti­vate cells near a frac­ture in or­der to stim­u­late the heal­ing process, says sports po­di­a­trist Stephen Pribut, a clin­i­cal as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of surgery at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity School of Medicine and Health Sciences in the US. Pa­tients are given a small ul­tra­sound kit to use at home. It straps onto the frac­ture site, so pa­tients can sit while un­der­go­ing treat­ment.

WHAT DOES IT TREAT?

Bone stim­u­la­tion is gen­er­ally used if a shin or foot bone fails to heal after four to six months of tra­di­tional treat­ment. It’s some­times used as an im­me­di­ate treat­ment of fifth-metatarsal frac­tures, since this bone tends not to heal with­out stim­u­la­tion or surgery. ‘If you’ve reached the point where you need to use a bone stim­u­la­tor, this prob­a­bly means that you’ll also be in a soft cast or on crutches,’ says Pribut.

HOW EF­FEC­TIVE?

A num­ber of stud­ies sup­port it as an ef­fec­tive treat­ment. Re­view­ing 17 clin­i­cal stud­ies, The Na­tional In­sti­tute for Health and Care Clin­i­cal Ex­cel­lence con­cluded that low-in­ten­sity pulsed ul­tra­sound treat­ment showed high rates of frac­ture heal­ing, judg­ing re­sults suf­fi­cient to sup­port the ef­fi­cacy of treat­ment. Pribut has found this to be true in his clinic, too.

WHO’S HAD IT?

For­mer 800m Olympian Rich Ke­nah used a bone stim­u­la­tor to help heal a nav­ic­u­lar (a bone on the top of the foot) stress frac­ture. ‘The frac­ture healed, I re­turned to make the US Olympic team and I run pain-free to­day,’ says Ke­nah.

DOES IT HURT?

Some peo­ple re­port a slight warmth, but most pa­tients feel noth­ing. ‘All the vi­bra­tion is deep and in­ter­nal,’ says Pribut.

WHO OF­FERS IT?

Treat­ment via the Ex­o­gen ul­tra­sound bone-heal­ing sys­tem is avail­able on pre­scrip­tion, while a de­vice that’s pro­duced by Os­teotron can be pur­chased di­rectly and is widely avail­able. Most sports medicine physi­cians should be aware of – and have ac­cess to – the tech­nol­ogy, adds Pribut.

WHAT’S THE COST?

The Os­teotron IV LIPUS Ul­tra­sound Bone Growth Stim­u­la­tor costs £1,700 from em­sphysio.co.uk

TREAT­MENT PLAN?

Pribut sug­gests run­ners use the stim­u­la­tor for 20 min­utes per day over three to four months. Since the process takes so long, Pribut says, ‘many elites elect to have surgery in­stead’.

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