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Tests show non-invasive therapy an alternative for broken bones

Category: General Health

Shock-wave therapy may offer a non-invasive, though equally effective, alternative to surgery from patients whose broken bones have difficulty healing, new research suggests.

According to a study published in the November issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, shockwave therapy stimulates the healing of bones within six months and provide outcomes comparable to surgery as long as two years after the treatment.

Researchers in San Salvatore Hospital in L'Aquila, Italy, studied 126 patients who suffered from nonunion - the failure of a bone to heal because of limited blood supply - of the femur, tibia, ulna or radius. One group of patients received surgery to repair their fracture; the other received four shock-wave therapy sessions at weekly intervals.

"We found that extracorporeal (outside the body) shock-wave therapy was just as effective as surgery in helping to heal and repair nonunions," said the study's lead author Dr Angelo Cacchio. "When we examined patients and compared their outcomes at three and six months, initially those who received the shock-wave therapy actually felt better than those who had surgery."

According to Dr Jonathan Cluett of the Health Disease and Condition Medical Review Board, broken bones are the most common orthopedic problems, totaling about 6.8 million reports in the U.S. each year.

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