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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Bone Stimulators for Fracture Healing: Common Questions

Hi Dr. Blake,

I heard from the rep about the bone stimulator.  He said my part of the cost would be $500.  I think you said that, but I thought that was what they charged the insurance company.  So, I’m a little sticker shocked.

I called him back to find out what kind it was, so I could do a little research to see if they really work.  He got kind of defensive, and warned me not to buy a used one online.  He is a salesperson, not a caregiver.  He said it is an ultrasound device made by Exogen.

My googling revealed that there are not great studies, but some people got good results.  The devices are for one person to use and then toss.  They are programmed to die after a given number of uses.  The wholesale cost is $1500, they ask $4000, and my insurance company pays $2500.  There are certain things about our medical system that I find disturbing, and this is one of them.

That said, I trust you and I am grateful for your care.  If you recommend it, I’ll go for it. My PT said I should ask you what % bone healing I currently have.

Since the rep gave me the idea, I looked up the Exogen on Craigslist, and they go for $60 - $250 (used).  Is this an option?


This patient has fractures in the first metatarsal and first cuneiform bones with a major amount of bone demineralization from resting the area in removable boots. Most of his pain may be coming from some arthritis in the first metatarsal cuneiform joint, and not from a healing fracture! Too difficult to tell right now. 

Dr Blake's response: 

     Thanks for doing some research on bone stim. The bone stim is a 9 month experiment. You are healing, but still have more pain then I would like. People do stop healing, or the pain can be from the arthritis and nothing to do with the bone fx. It is all educated guesses. I think the chance of the stimulator helping  you is 20%, but if we don't do it, it could come back to bite us. And, if it does work, we won't know really if it was the bone stim! Such is life, but I would still have you pay the money for the stim, then an elaborate holiday gift to your favorite podiatrist!!LOL. Rich

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.